UK Traffic Commissioners: firms more likely to employ dangerous drivers due to driver shortage

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The annual traffic commissioners’ report has drawn attention to a safety hazard the driver shortage could entail; companies potentially employing dangerous drivers they otherwise wouldn't in normal circumstances. The report also mentions the problems fleet operators and drivers may face due to the introduction of off-payroll working.

UK Traffic Commissioners: firms more likely to employ dangerous drivers due to driver shortage

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain released their Annual Report for 2020 to 2021 on August 10th. The commissioners provided updates on their strategic objectives in 2021, detailed their new objectives and reflected on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reflections of the Traffic Commissioners touched on some important current issues: driver shortages, the problems the introduction of IR35 caused, and the incoming legislation on LGVs between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes.

The obvious risk is that operators may be tempted to retain drivers even after retraining and disciplinary processes have failed to import the standards expected of a professional driver.”

According to the English traffic commissioners’ joint view, the new drivers the industry need should be mentored by “competent and experienced drivers who can act as exemplars”.

The current driver demographic presents a real risk and operators and Transport Managers may be tempted to engage drivers who fail to live up to even the basic standards. It must be understood that whatever the commercial expediency, safety standards must be retained and that the ability to manage an operator’s licence will be put in jeopardy, if they fail to ensure compliance from their drivers” – stresses the study.

The commissioners’ report also draws attention to the problems the introduction of IR35, that is off-payroll working means for operators:

The differences between self-employed drivers, what constitutes a self-employed driver, drivers engaged as a personal service company and drivers provided by agencies need to be fully understood, especially where they relate to HMRC and financial standing.”

And finally, the English commissioner also warned operators of light goods vehicles between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes to prepare for changes in the law:

If operating internationally they will be required to apply for an operator’s licence and have transport managers for vehicles that have previously been outside the traffic commissioners’ remit.

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