At present, the DVSA can only issue fixed penalty notices for those who breach rules that day or where they have ongoing offences. Where earlier offences are concerned, it must take the offender to court, which it says can be costly and time-consuming. It says there have also been cases where drivers outside of the UK have chosen to ignore any summons. But new draft regulations will give DVSA traffic examiners the ability to issue penalties for any drivers’ hours offences committed over the past 28 days. Drivers who aren’t based in the UK will have to pay any penalties before continuing on their journey – or risk having their vehicle immobilised.
In addition to these new rules, DVSA enforcement officers will also be issuing fines of up to £300 to lorry drivers who take their full, weekly 45 hour rest breaks in their vehicle. Drivers who sleep in their vehicles can cause problems among local communities and there have been a number of complaints about noise, nuisance, litter and anti-social behaviour, it said.
DVSA traffic examiners will target enforcement in places such as lay-bys where such behaviour is causing problems and work with their counterparts overseas to tackle foreign operators who do this regularly.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said that driving while tired accounts for 1 in 5 of all collisions and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes. About 40% of sleep-related accidents involve drivers of commercial vehicles – such as lorry drivers.
According to safety charity driving body Think!, almost a quarter of injuries caused by accidents involving lorries are fatal or serious, compared to 1 in 8 for crashes as a whole.
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.
These tougher penalties will help us to take stronger action against any drivers or operators who break drivers’ hours rules and will help make our roads safer. There’s no excuse for driving whilst tired. The results of falling asleep at the wheel of 44 tonne lorry can be devastating to families and communities.”
“Any driver breaking these rules is putting other road users at risk and could face losing their licence and livelihood.”
Mike Wilson, Highways England‘s chief highways engineer, added: “Safety is our number one priority, and with 70% of all freight using our motorways and major A-roads, our road network is fundamental to goods and services travelling around the country. That is why we support this move to help make journeys safer for everyone.”