On 18 March 16, the European Commission published a new regulation which classifies offences and infringements into degrees of seriousness. This classification is then to be used as a basis for considering the good repute of the operator and for DVSA targeting checks against those operators who are considered to impose an increased risk to road safety. Under the regulation the seriousness of an infringement can be increased if there are repeated infringements of the same type.
The concept of “most serious infringements” was introduced in the 2009 Regulation where if a most serious infringement had taken place, then there would be an automatic loss of the operator’s good repute, unless such a response was considered disproportionate. In the 2009 Regulation there were 7 categories of infringements which were to be classified as “most serious infringements”. The new regulations classify infringements as “serious infringements”, “very serious infringements” and “most serious infringements”. However, when considering an operator’s record, the enforcement authorities will look at the number of serious infringements and divide it by the average number of drivers employed during the year. If that calculation comes out at 3 serious infringements per driver per year, then that is considered to be the equivalent of 1 very serious infringement. Get more than three very serious infringements per driver per year and this automatically triggers the launch of a national procedure on good repute, ie an investigation by DVSA and probably a public inquiry.
The new regulation is going to mean that operators are going to have to be more vigilant than ever with drivers. For example, exceeding the 4.5 hour driving time before taking a break by half an hour is classed as a serious infringement. Have 3 of these per driver per year and it is classed as a very serious infringement.
The new regulation applies from 1 January 2017. Operators need to be monitoring their drivers’ infringements from now on, otherwise they may be faced with a nasty surprise early in the new year, when they find out that they have, unbeknown to them, clocked up three very serious infringements and are facing an investigation.