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Office Of The Traffic Commissioner Lawyers Glasgow

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner is a tribunal non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Transport. If you are operating a company using Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), or indeed you are an HGV or PSV driver, you will have a licence from the Traffic Commissioner. The Traffic Commissioner is responsible for regulating everything to do with such drivers and dealing with situations where things go wrong.

It is important to follow the rules set out by the Traffic Commissioner. Stepping out of line could result in loss of your licence. This blog post will briefly outline the duties of the Traffic Commissioner as well as your duties towards them.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER’S RESPONSIBILITIES AND PRIORITIES

Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 sets out the functions of the Traffic Commissioner. They regulate everything to do with the conduct of applicants for and holders of HGV and PSV licences, acting in accordance with directions from the Secretary of State.

Their responsibilities include:

  • The licencing of the operators of HGVs and PSVs (i.e. buses and coaches);
  • The registration of local bus services;
  • Granting vocational licences;
  • Taking action against drivers of HGVs and PSVs;
  • Assessing environmental suitability of designated parking locations for HGVs.

They have certain shared priorities. These are:

  • To ensure that people operating HGVs and PSVs are reliable, able and adequately funded;
  • To encourage operators to adopt strong systems (so there is fair competition and sp that the operation of HGV and PSVs is safe);
  • To consider the fitness of drivers and those applying for PCV or HGV licences based on conduct;
  • To consider and where appropriate impose traffic regulation conditions to prevent danger to road users, and reduce traffic congestion and pollution;
  • To ensure public enquiry proceedings are fair and free from any unjustified interference or bias.

YOUR DUTIES TOWARDS THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER

  1. I. NOTIFICATION DUTIES

If you hold an HGV or PSV licence, there are a number of things you must notify the Traffic Commissioner of in writing. You have a general duty of honesty towards them, so if you are ever in doubt as to whether something needs disclosed, it’s worth checking anyway.

Sometimes, the duty to notify is actually a condition of your operator’s licence. It is a criminal offence to breach a condition of your operator’s licence so in this case it is especially important to ensure that you are complying with your duties.

You must notify the Traffic Commissioner within 28 days of things such as:

  • Any criminal convictions you, or any other operator licence holder, director, partner or employee has;
  • Fixed penalty notices or conditional offers issued to drivers or to anyone else connected with the transport operation;
  • Where you no longer have access to at least one vehicle on your operator’s licence;
  • Anything that might affect your ability to operate an ‘effective and stable’ establishment. This includes any change to your office etc. If you are the driver yourself, this may include any medical conditions for example.
  • Any event that brings the professional competence or repute of your Transport Manager into question;
  • Any change to your finances;
  • A change of maintenance arrangements;
  • Any change in ownership of business;
  • Any change of partners or directors within the company;
  • Any insolvency events.
  1. II. YOUR CONDUCT AS A PROFESSIONAL DRIVER

If your conduct as a professional driver steps out of line, this can be referred to the Traffic Commissioner. This is because sometimes the things you do make it clear that you are unfit to hold a professional licence. This can have a large impact on your ability to work, which is why it’s important to maintain the required standards.

Legislation as well as guidance published by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner set out rules surrounding professional duties. This includes things like Drivers’ Hours, tachographs and other behaviour standards (such as no mobile phones while driving). Such rules are in place as they help keep professional drivers as well as the public safe. Offences relating to these rules include drivers falsifying hour records, so it appears as if they are complying, as well as manipulating a tachograph. The Traffic Commissioner will always consider it a serious offence when a driver breaches any of these.  Consequences range from a small suspension period to full loss of licence.

New standards have recently been introduced surrounding mobile phones and other electronic devices. Except when calling 999 or 112 in a genuine emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop, it’s illegal to use a device on the road. It presents a huge safety risk to you and those around you.

You have a duty as a professional driver to operate in line with these guidelines (which you can find on the Government website). If you break a rule, the Traffic Commissioner can remove or suspend your licence thus affecting your career.

  • III. TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER’S UPDATED GUIDANCE

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has the power to issue guidance and general direction. Recently, updated guidance has been released on certain areas. Better guidance has been released on what counts as good repute or fitness of a driver, what is relevant and how you can fulfil the conditions. Improved assistance has also been released on driver conduct including matters that are referred to the Traffic Commissioners. This also includes a number of case studies which are useful to illustrate what acceptable.

If you wish to see more details on the exact updates, you’ll find them here: https://movingon.blog.gov.uk/2016/01/13/updated-guidance-from-the-traffic-commissioners/

PUBLIC INQUIRIES

If the Traffic Commissioner has become aware that a driver has committed an offence or breached any of the guidance mentioned above, they can hold a public inquiry. This is so they can obtain more evidence to decide if action against the individual is required. They may also hold an inquiry to decide whether they should grant or refuse an application for an HGV or PSC licence. An inquiry can also be requested by a service operator.

  1. I. OBJECTING TO A LICENCE

Certain public bodies (such as local and planning authorities, some trade associations, the Police and even some trade unions) can object to a person or body receiving a professional driver’s licence. They can object to the professional competence of the operator or its transport manager, the operator’s finances, their reputation or fitness, their arrangements for vehicle maintenance and drivers’ hours as well as their environmental standards and general conditions. The objection must be put in writing to the Traffic Commissioner within 21 days of a licence application.

Individuals can also object. Specifically, owners and residents of land nearby. This is called representation and must be about environmental issues such as concern over noise. They can only be made if granting the licence would affect the owner or resident’s ‘use or enjoyment’ of the land.

  1. II. BEING CALLED TO AN INQUIRY

You will get notice that you have to appear at a hearing. This will be a minimum of 28 days before if the inquiry is about a transport manager; 21 days if it’s about a new or existing HGV licence; and 14 if it’s about a new or existing PSV licence. You cannot ask for the date of the inquiry to be changed unless you have a good reason and evidence to back it up. For example, if you are out of the country that day you may need to produce proof of purchase of your plane ticket.

  • III. AT THE INQUIRY

For the inquiry itself, you can have legal representation or represent yourself. You could also have someone like a transport consultant represent you if the Transport Commissioner agrees.

At the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner listen to the application outline as well as the objectors’ case and asks questions. They will then hear all the circumstances of the case such as how various conditions added to the licence may affect the business. Once the Traffic Commissioner has made their decision, they will announce it at the time or may give it in writing later on, usually within 28 days of the hearing.

  1. IV. DECISIONS AND PENALTY

The Traffic Commissioner can decide to:

  • Refuse to grant/vary a licence;
  • Attach conditions to a licence or limit a licence requested (i.e. allow fewer vehicles than the number applied for);
  • Revoke or suspend a licence;
  • Disqualify an individual, operator or company from having a licence;
  • Impose financial penalties; or
  • Disqualify transport managers.

You then have the option to appeal the decision to the Upper Tribunal. If your appeal is accepted, a similar process will follow, except this time, it will be against the Traffic Commissioner.

  1. V. FURTHER INFORMATION

If you require further information, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner has produced a detailed guide to public inquiries. This includes more on how you might be called, and also a more detailed account of what could happen on the day. 

If you need any further advice, please get in touch with our road traffic team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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