FTA hits back at amended rules for drivers

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has deemed the proposal to make transport operators liable for the offences of their drivers “unacceptable and unworkable”.

These views come from 12 regional councils of FTA, which recently considered the Department for Transport's consultation on the introduction of amended EU drivers’ hours rules from April 11.

One of the rules’ new provisions concerns the liability of operators for infringements committed by drivers.

Current arrangements allow for a reasoned defence to be entered. However, the FTA said the new wording is being interpreted in such a way that operators will assume absolute liability for all offences committed by their drivers.

It voiced its concerns for three reasons. Firstly, it called the move “an unnecessary gold-plating” of the regulations’ wording, which contravenes the DfT’s recent promise to relieve the industry of unnecessary regulatory burdens.

Secondly, the current provisions have worked satisfactorily for all parties and do not require amendment to achieve acceptable levels of accountability and safety, it said.

Lastly, the FTA claimed the extension of liability in this way fights natural justice and invites challenge under human rights and similar legislation.

FTA chief executive Richard Turner said: “I have never seen my members so angry about a rule which will make them liable for everything their drivers do, leaving them to collect evidence for a defence. This is an unacceptable recipe for litigation and lawyers' pension schemes. What we want is that the operator remains innocent until it is proved that they do not have the relevant systems in place.”