The current rules regarding obtaining an operator’s licence, employing transport mangers and the Traffic Commissioners’ powers have been in place since the mid 1990s. However proposals are afoot to make a change to operator licensing
According to Jaques Barrot, the former EU Transport Commissioner, “to enable the internal market to operate properly, our rules need to be clear, they must be uniform and they must be applied to all transport operators in all member states.” The draft regulation as it currently stands makes some significant charges to how operators will interact with the licensing authority. Briefly, these include the following:-
Transport managers, under the new proposals, may be limited as to the maximum numbers of vehicles for which they are responsible. The manager will be responsible for not more than 50 vehicles. Evidence of proof of professional competency will be not only by means of taking an examination but also by showing that the manager has had 140 hours of training. The transport manager will have to sit an examination every ten years, in order to keep up to date with legislation.
The proposals include a list of serious infringements, which if breached, will lead to loss of repute. By 1 January 2010, the Commission will have categorised infringements according to the seriousness of the risk of death or injury. There will also be provision for those common infringements to be regarded as serious if they frequently occur. However, at what stage a common infringement will be regarded as “serious” will depend upon the size of the fleet.
There are proposed changes to the way in which an operator will prove access to sufficient financial resources. New applicants will be asked to provide a certified opening balance sheet. There are proposals to allow operators to enter into an insurance policy as proof of financial standing. This may be something similar to indemnity insurance that is required for other professions.
Enforcement will be made easier, by the fact that the proposed regulations make it clear that enforcement authorities have access to certain documents, such as accountancy documents and personnel management documentation, in order to verify that there is compliance, particularly with the drivers’ hours rules. The transport operator will have a duty to advise where these documents are kept.
The proposals are still being discussed by Europe and will be subject to a second reading in December 08. Whether or not they do result in an even playing field across Europe, we will have to wait and see.