Vans And Taxis – Time To Regulate?
By Kyle Lindsay
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 11:30
HGV and PSV drivers undoubtedly lead the way as highly skilled and professional drivers…but just because you drive for a living doesn’t make you a ‘professional driver.’
Some unregulated drivers are bringing shame on the others who drive for a living and it’s time regulations stepped in to protect all road users.
Who is TruTac?
TruTac provide compliance management and tachograph analysis and WTD management software to over 4,000 commercial vehicle operators.
These include the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and many household names who are all committed to driver compliance and road safety.
What is a tachograph?
It’s a black box on a commercial vehicle that records the drivers work, rest and vehicle speed. Tachographs must be calibrated, maintained and fitted correctly. Incorrect use, tampering or driving without one can attract large fines and prison sentences.
Over 6 million trucks / buses / coaches in the EU have tacho’s fitted.
They enable operators and law enforcement agencies to monitor drivers’ activity to prevent fatigue, protect public safety and ensure compliance with road transport law.
To put it simply Tachographs saves lives!
Road use facts
Road is the main method of transporting goods across Great Britain, with almost three times more goods moved by road than by water and rail combined.
In 2015 UK HGV’s travelled over 18.4 billion kilometres (up 9% compared to 2014) and moved over 1.65 (up 11% compared to 2014) billion tonnes of goods and this is going up every year.
However, in the last 10 years there’s been a 43% decrease in HGV related fatalities. During the same period, there has been a 12% increase in van/light commercial vehicle (LCV) accidents (20% in London) and, more worryingly, a 44% increase in private hire and taxi accidents, primarily driven by the recent Uber culture.
There has been a significant increase in light van traffic owing to a rise in internet shopping deliveries. Compared with 2014, van traffic grew faster than any other vehicle type, rising 4.2% to reach a record high of 46.9 billion vehicle miles in 2015.
White vans are growing rapidly in numbers due to our Amazon culture – road safety is a key concern again due to self-employed delivery drivers.
LCV ownership Facts
• The number of LCVs registered in the UK has increased by 29% over 10 years to 3.28 million
• Every tenth vehicle on the road is an LCV
• Over the same 10-year period, the number of HGVs has decreased by 5% to 460,600
• LCV activity is predicted to almost double between 2010 and 2040
• LCV activity is the fastest growing of all the vehicle groups
• There is growing evidence LCVs are being used to substitute for HGVs
• A key factor is pay – an LCV driver might earn £18k, a HGV driver £30k
• 50% of LCVs fail their MOT first time and 89% of LCVs pulled over by DVSA were overweight
• Vans, their operation and their drivers are less heavily regulated than HGVs
• Neither van’s, minibuses (under 9 seats) or taxis have to have tachographs fitted.
For most British van drivers, the only rules that usually apply are the GB Domestic driving rules.
GB Domestic Driving rules apply if you drive a van under 3.5 tonnes and your journey is exclusively in the UK (GB rules also apply if your vehicle is exempt from EU rules, such as agricultural vehicles, breakdown vehicles and non-commercial minibuses).
The GB Domestic Driving rules limit the number of hours you can drive and the length of time you can be on duty in total.
These driving limits include:
• A maximum of ten hours driving per day
• A maximum of eleven hours on duty (any work time if you are employed, or any time directly involved with your van, such as loading, if you are self-employed).
However, if the vehicle is not under the scope of operator licencing on that day then no written record of the drivers’ hours is required. This is particularly scary when you realise 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles.
Self-employed taxi drivers are currently in the spotlight. The big debate is around whether Uber drivers are employed or self-employed. The most recent ruling (Oct 2016) says they are employed and as such, should be subject to GB domestic rules and Working Time Regulations but the case is being appealed.
Even if they are employed and covered by the rules, they only need to record their hours in a log book or weekly record sheet and this is open to huge abuse and falsification.
The taxi accident rates in London show a worrying trend, Transport for London figures show there has been a 44% rise in the number of casualties involving taxis or private hire vehicles in the capital since Uber launched UberX in London, in July 2013.
The number of casualties in the year to June 30 2013 was 530. In the year to June 30 2015, it was 691, a 30% increase. By September 30 2015, there had been 763 casualties in the preceding 12 months, a 44% rise. By September 2015, the taxi and private hire vehicle casualty rate was 102% above the 2005-9 average, according to TfL.
Equally worrying is that new statistics reveal one assault every 11 days, last year, by drivers on popular car-hire app.
Motorcycles and Mopeds
Motorcycles and mopeds used for work purposes have been increasingly more involved in accidents in the same seven-year period. Such vehicles were involved in 1,174 accidents nationwide in 2015, a 31% increase on 2009.
The fact is that some self-employed van, motorcycle and Uber taxi drivers are working a 90 hour weeks with multiple jobs.
Often, they have just completed a 12-hour shift at another job before jumping in their car to drive you and your loved ones around, with some openly admitting to sleeping in their vehicle.
HGV and PSV drivers must undergo strict training and regular professional competency exams with health assessments and comply with many regulations on driving time, licence checks, daily vehicle checks and vehicle maintenance.
Few self-employed Uber or van drivers undergo any form of regulated training or adhere to daily checks for road worthiness; so even if driver tiredness doesn’t kill you the condition of their vehicle might!
The sooner these vehicles and their so called ‘professional drivers’ have to undertake regulated competency exams the better. They should also come under tachograph and driver’s hours’ legislation and we’ll all be safer.
Everyone who drives for a living should undergo training, understand driver tiredness, and comply with legislation to meet road safety targets. Roads are getting busier and every driver should be responsible for road safety.
Where drivers will take their breaks and the provision of safe road rest areas is another debate. It’s something else that needs addressing both for tacho and non-tacho vehicles.
So, before you jump in an Uber because it’s a couple of quid cheaper than a licensed black cab, think twice…
Jemma James, Director of Commercial Operations and Marketing for TruTac says:
“Our solution for non-tacho drivers is, TruWTD, which we already have in our TruAnalysis system for non-tacho vehicles such as buses, vans and other professional drivers and mobile workers. We are currently developing an additional solution and app which will act as a standalone system for managing WTD for these sectors.
Additionally, we have TruChecks which can be used by any vehicle operator (van, HGV, PSV, bike, car) to manage the daily vehicle road worthiness and maintenance checks. We currently have several van fleets which are being proactive and have signed up to manage their drivers’ working time and this is expected to grow. We have over 20 van fleets using TruChecks.”
“On a related note”, says Jemma, “New York is restricting Uber drivers’ hours because of accidents and other states are following so hopefully the UK will follow suit soon”