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Transport minister Larry Whitty today welcomed Earl Attlee's Private ...
Transport minister Larry Whitty today welcomed Earl Attlee's Private

Peer's Bill which would enable illegally-operated heavy goods

vehicles to be impounded and improve the enforcement of the rules on

drivers' hours.

The new legislation would give vehicle inspectorate examiners powers

to impound HGVs found to be operating illegally without an operator's

licence. Also, drivers of coaches and trucks found to be in breach of

drivers' hours regulations would have to take the necessary break or

rest period before continuing their journey.

Welcoming the Bill on impounding, Lord Whitty said:

'British truckers deserve better protection from illegal operators

who compete unfairly with the great majority of law-abiding hauliers

and flout safety and environmental standards.

'This Bill seeks to achieve the objectives of the detention scheme

announced in our White Paper. It is also widely supported by the vast

majority of road hauliers themselves. That is why I welcome this


'Impounding illegally-operated HGVs would provide the first truly

effective sanction against unlicensed operators by preventing them

from continuing to operate. It would also serve as a deterrent to

discourage other hauliers from ignoring the laws on the licensing of

operators of goods vehicles.'

Earl Attlee introduced the Road Traffic (Enforcement Powers) Bill in

the house of lords on 8 June.

A consultation exercise carried out by the DETR last year showed that

there was overwhelming support for an impounding scheme. It was

therefore included as a commitment in the government's White Paper on

the future of transport.

Turning to drivers' hours, Lord Whitty said:

'Drivers' hours regulations are there to protect the safety of

drivers, passengers and other road users. However, there is no

specific power to prohibit drivers who exceed drivers' hours from

continuing their journey.

'Ensuring drivers take their legally required breaks before

continuing their journey should mean safer journeys for all.'

Powers to prohibit drivers from continuing their journey once they

have exceeded their legal maximum exist only for foreign-registered

vehicles. The proposals within this Bill will end the anomaly between

foreign and UK-registered vehicles.


1. All commercial operators of goods vehicles over 3.5 gross weight

must have an operator's licence. In order to obtain a licence they

must show that they have sufficient finances and maintenance

facilities to ensure that their vehicles are run in a safe condition

and that their operating centre is suitable for the local

environment. Professional road haulage operators also have to hold a

qualification of professional competence.

2. Roadside surveys carried out by the Vehicle Inspectorate in 1995

and in 1997 have shown that up to 2 per cent of HGVs are operating illegally. They have also indicated that illegally-operated vehicles are twice as likely as legitimately run lorries to have a dangerous roadworthiness defect.

3. The consultation exercise on the government's proposed scheme for

the detention or impounding of illegally-operated HGVs was launched

last year on 25 February and ended in May.

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