A Traffic Commissioner’s Public Inquiry is a public hearing held in front of a Traffic Commissioner.
These are held for three reasons:
- To determine the application for an operator’s licence
- To review the operating centre facilities (vehicle parking) for an operator’s licence
- Regulatory reasons – in most cases disciplinary action against an operator
Traffic Commissioner’s regulatory action is triggered after evidence emerges that an operator is not fulfilling their operator’s licence undertakings (this often leads to a Public Inquiry).
Operator’s licence undertakings are promises made to the Traffic Commissioner during application for the licence. Many people do not pay due attention to them and simply sign the application without realising their importance.
Do you know your operator licence undertakings? You should check your licence documents as they refer to your obligations to keep vehicles and drivers legal and safe on the road and to ensure that required records will be kept.
Common routes to a Public Inquiry include:
Prohibition at a DVSA road side stop
S marked prohibitions are especially likely to draw the attention of DVSA officers to an operator’s maintenance systems. After all, if one vehicle is found in a poor and unsafe condition then it is fair to suspect that the system of keeping vehicles safe is not working. This includes; driver pre-use checks with proper quality checks, vehicle inspections (including brake testing), adequate record keeping and lack of appropriate assessment of the workshop carrying out required inspections. (i.e. Are they up to date with the “Guide to maintaining roadworthiness”). Prohibitions also lead to a poor OCRS score which gives DVSA a negative picture and possible reason to investigate. If a follow up visit from the DVSA is unsatisfactory this would be reported to the Traffic Commissioner who will take the appropriate action against the licence holder.
Failure to notify of important changes to the licence
An operator is required to inform the Traffic Commissioner about any changes to the licence. This includes entity of the business, director and transport manager changes, financial standing issues or any other events that are affecting the licence. Many people forget to notify about these changes, with one of the most common being the change of the entity from a sole trader to a limited company. A newly formed company is a different entity therefore requires to hold its own licence.
Driver’s hours offences
The world of EU Driver’s Hours regulations and exemptions is complicated and misinterpreted by many people. Regular drivers’ hours infringements as well as a failure to keep correct records are significant breaches of the operator’s licence undertakings. Regular offenders who are unable to demonstrate the required control of drivers’ hours monitoring are likely to be called to appear before a Public Inquiry.
If you feel a compliance review would be beneficial to your organisation, please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or 01163 500335 for a friendly chat. We are here to help. Our consultants are fully qualified transport managers with years of experience in the industry. Fleet Planner is a fleet management system designed to make transport compliance easier to achieve.