House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Road Safety Bill - continued          House of Commons

back to previous text

New section 133ZA (training)

122.     Subsections (1), (2), (4) and (5) enable the Secretary of State, by regulations:

  • to make provision about instructor's training courses and persons providing the courses,

  • to require a person to successfully complete training in accordance with the regulations before being permitted to take any part of an examination, to become registered or to have his registration extended,

  • to provide for the setting of maximum charges for persons undergoing such training, and

  • to make available information about persons providing training.

123.     Subsection (3) provides for exemptions to the general requirements and subsection (6) allows the Secretary of State to charge reasonable fees in respect of the exercise of any function conferred or imposed on him by the regulations.

124.     It will be possible under these provisions for the Secretary of State to control better the giving of paid instruction by requiring persons giving it to undergo training.

125.     Paragraph 13 makes a number of amendments to section 131 (appeals), in particular a provision for appeal to the Transport Tribunal where the Registrar has imposed a rehabilitation period.

126.     Paragraph 19 substitutes a new section 134 (power to alter registration period). It enables the Secretary of State, by regulations, to make changes in the registration period, allowing for greater flexibility and to make changes as to the maximum rehabilitation period that may be imposed.

127.     Paragraph 20 substitutes a new section 135 (evidence of registration). This contains a regulation-making power regarding those items or titles that may be issued or used as evidence of a person's registration. It makes it an offence for a non-registered person to display such items or use such titles. It is also an offence for a person carrying on business in the provision of driving instruction to use such titles in relation to employees or franchisees who are not registered or to issue misleading advertisements or invitations as to the extent to which employees or franchisees are registered.

128.     Paragraph 25 substitutes new interpretation provisions for Part 5 of the RTA as follows:

New section 141A (interpretation)

129.     Subsections (1) describes the ways in which persons may carry on the business of providing driving instruction. Subsections (2) and (3) define what is meant by a "driving instruction franchise", "franchisor" and "franchisee", in relation to driving instruction businesses.

130.     Subsections (4) and (5) make incidental provision.

131.     Paragraphs 15 to 18, 21 to 24 and 26 to 29 make minor and consequential amendments.

Regulation of registration plate suppliers

Clause 33: Enforcement authorities, Clause 34: Registration plates, and Clause 35: Extension to Scotland and Northern Ireland

132.     These clauses concern the regulation of number plate suppliers. The controls affecting such businesses, which are in Part 2 of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 ("the 2001 Act"), already apply in England and Wales and are now being extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland. In essence the controls consist of suppliers having to register with DVLA (upon payment of a fee) and requirements as to sale of number plates, record keeping and submission to inspection. Suppliers can be prosecuted if they fail to meet these requirements.

133.     Clause 33 amends the 2001 Act to enhance the role of the Secretary of State in the enforcement process by allowing him to authorise persons to inspect the premises of number plate suppliers and to prosecute offenders (save in Scotland where that remains the province of the Procurator Fiscal). It also allows those trading standards officers who work for those county councils in England where there remains a two-tier structure of local government to be able to take enforcement action.

134.     Clause 34 amends the 2001 Act to make it an offence to supply a plate bearing a vehicle registration mark that does not comply with regulations concerning the manner in which registration numbers must be displayed. There is a power to make regulations prescribing circumstances in which the offence would not apply.

135.     Clause 35 extends the controls on number plate suppliers to Scotland and Northern Ireland and amends the 2001 Act in consequence.

136.     The intention of the Government is that clauses 33 and 34 will be brought into force before clause 35 and hence, upon the commencement of the latter, Part 2 of the 2001 Act as amended by the provisions in clauses 33 and 34 will extend to Scotland and NI.


Clause 36: Particulars to be included in vehicles register

137.     This clause amends VERA to allow the particulars to be included in the register of vehicles held by the DVLA to be prescribed by regulations and such particulars may relate to the vehicle itself or its keeper. The provision of these particulars can be required of a person before being issued with a vehicle licence. These particulars can also be required of a vehicle keeper (not just of a buyer or seller as currently) and the providing of these particulars may be required at any time. The issue of a registration document may be refused if these particulars are not provided.

138.     The present intention is to make regulations listing the information (relating both to the vehicle and its keeper) required for the DVLA vehicles register and this will include the particulars currently held. This information will also include the odometer reading (recorded mileage) of the vehicle where it is fitted with such a device.

Clause 37: Records of goods vehicle examinations

139.     This clause amends the RTA:-

  • to place the Secretary of State under a duty to maintain records in relation to the testing of goods vehicles, and

  • to provide that such records may be used to check the accuracy of, amend or supplement, records maintained by the Secretary of State for the purposes of his functions under VERA (and vice versa).

140.     In addition, VERA is amended to provide that goods vehicle testing records may be used to check the accuracy of, amend or supplement, information obtained in connection with vehicle identity check examinations (and vice versa). It replicates provision which already exists for other motor vehicles.

Clause 38: Disclosure to foreign authorities of licensing and registration information

141.     This clause provides statutory authority for the relevant agencies - the DVLA in, Great Britain, and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland ("DVLNI"), in Northern Ireland - to disclose certain data to their foreign counterparts. The relevant data held by DVLA and DVLNI is that concerning driving licences and the registration of vehicles held in any form for the purposes of Part 3 or 4 of the RTA, or Part 2 or Articles 70 to 79 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

142.     This statutory authority will enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty on European Vehicle and Driving Licence Information System (EUCARIS) which was signed by the UK, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on 29th June 2000. (The Treaty is designed to facilitate the exchange between the central registrars of the Parties of information on the subject of driving and vehicle registration).

Clause 39: Disclosure of information about insurance status of vehicles

143.     This section will enable the police to have access to insurance industry data relating to vehicles whose use is no longer insured. The police will be able to link the processed data to Automated Number-Plate Reader (ANPR) units to assist them in detecting people driving without insurance.

Miscellaneous traffic provisions

Clause 40: Motorway picnic areas etc

144.     This clause amends section 112 of the Highways Act 1980 to enable the Secretary of State to provide picnic sites on land adjoining, or in the vicinity of motorways and to enter into arrangements with a council for the provision of facilities at such sites. The Secretary of State will also be able to provide public sanitary conveniences on land adjoining the motorway. Currently, the power to provide picnic sites is limited to trunk roads that are not motorways. The provisions apply to England and Wales. The Secretary of State's functions regarding motorways and other trunk roads, including the provision of picnic areas, are devolved matters exercisable in Wales by the National Assembly for Wales.

Clause 41: Drivers' hours enforcement

145.     This clause and Schedule 5 make amendments relating to drivers' hours enforcement. The amendments replace section 99 of the 1968 Act substituting new sections 99ZA to 99ZF. They also make some changes to sections 97, 99A, 101 and 103 of the 1968 Act.

146.     Many of these changes reflect changes to European legislation concerning tachographs. Briefly, Commission Regulation EEC 3821/85 requires certain vehicles to be fitted with tachographs. These are devices used to record drivers' activities. These records are used in turn to enforce the EU Drivers' Hours Rules which limit the length of time for which drivers can drive without taking a break and require them to observe minimum rest and break periods. Commission Regulation EC 2135/98 amended Regulation EEC 3821/85 to provide for the introduction of digital tachographs. These new tachographs will record drivers activities electronically and store them on a memory chip rather than on a paper record sheet.

147.     Digital tachographs, which conform to Annex 1B of Regulation EEC 3821/85 as amended, will have to be fitted to new vehicles, while the tachographs currently in use, conforming to Annex 1 of that Regulation, may continue to be used where they have been fitted already. The amendments adapt the 1968 Act, which was drafted to reflect the existence of Annex 1 tachographs only, to cater for both Annex 1 and Annex 1B types and reflect the complexity of the new type and its separate driver card.

148.     Additional changes have been made to section 99 to clarify the law and to extend existing enforcement powers.

Schedule 5

149.     Paragraphs 1 and 2 amend section 97 of the 1968 Act (installation and use of recording equipment). These amendments all relate to the introduction of digital tachographs. Currently, section 97 of the 1968 Act requires relevant vehicles to be fitted with recording equipment that complies with Annexes I and II of Regulation EEC 3821/85. This essentially means that they must be fitted with a type approved tachograph which records driver activities on a paper record sheet. In the future, vehicles may be fitted instead with digital tachographs, which must comply with Annex IB of Regulation EEC 3821/85 instead of Annex I. Annex II applies to both types.

150.     These amendments will require digital tachographs to be fitted to all vehicles brought into use after a date to be specified in an order made by the Secretary of State. Under the existing wording of Regulation EEC 2135/98, the start date for compulsory fitment to new vehicles should have been 5 August 2004. However, as type approved digital tachographs were not yet available then, the European Institutions are currently considering a proposal which would change the start date to 5 August 2005, although that date may change.

151.     Vehicles brought into use before the compulsory fitment date would be allowed to use either type of tachograph.

152.     Paragraph 2(3) amends section 97(2) to provide that a person shall not be liable for a fine in cases where a vehicle was not fitted with an appropriate tachograph, but was being driven to a place where it was to be fitted with one.

153.     Paragraph 3 substitutes new sections 99ZA to 99ZF for section 99 of the 1968 Act (inspection of records and other documents). Section 99 contains powers for enforcement officers (vehicle examiners appointed under section 66A RTA and police) to inspect documents and vehicles for the purposes of checking whether drivers have complied with the drivers hours rules. These amendments replace section 99.

New section 99ZA of the 1968 Act: inspection of records, other documents and data

154.     Subsection (1) of new section 99ZA is almost identical to the existing provisions of section 99(1) which gives officers the power to inspect and copy relevant documents (including documents which drivers are required to keep under the domestic drivers' hours rules and any document which an officer may reasonably require in order to check whether the EU Drivers' hours rules have been breached).

155.     The main change is the addition of the words 'remove, retain' in the second line. This removes uncertainty about the extent of the powers and creates a clear right to remove and retain documents for the purposes of inspection in all cases.

156.     Subsection (2) creates similar rights in relation to data stored by digital tachographs. Digital tachographs will store records in two different places. Each driver will have a smart card known as a driver card, which will record that driver's activities on its memory chip. Each digital tachograph will also have its own digital memory on which it will record information relating to the use of that vehicle. Some of the information stored on the driver card will also be in the memory of the digital tachograph itself. But the digital tachograph will contain some information not stored on the driver card and the driver card will contain some information not stored in the digital tachograph. Subsection (3) is based on the final paragraph of existing section 99(1). However, instead of allowing an officer to require documents to be sent to the office of the traffic commissioner, it allows an officer to require documents to be sent to any specified address. This will allow officers to arrange for documents to be sent to their current workplace. Subsection (3) also extends the right to digital tachograph records.

157.     Subsection (4) makes it clear that an officer has the same powers in relation to documents sent to him at a specified address as he does in cases where he takes those records directly. So, for example, an officer can copy documents that have been sent to his office.

158.     Subsection (5) is equivalent to section 99(9), which extends the definition of an 'officer', which covers a vehicle examiner, to a police constable.

159.     Subsection (6) makes it clear that the term 'copying' can either mean taking an electronic copy of digital tachograph records or making a paper printout of digital tachograph records (all digital tachographs will be capable of making paper printouts).

160.     Subsection (7) defines the terms 'digital recording equipment', 'driver card', 'electronic copy', 'hard copy' and 'officer'. The definition of 'officer' replicates that currently contained in section 99(8). The other definitions are new and relate to digital tachographs.

New section 99ZB of the 1968 Act: powers of entry

161.     Subsections (1) and (2) of this section are based on section 99(2)(a) of the 1968 Act.

162.     Section 99(2) already gives officers the power to inspect vehicles and tachograph equipment and to inspect and copy any record sheets that they find in such vehicles. Subsection 99ZB(2) includes these powers and makes equivalent provision for digital tachographs. It also makes it clear that officers may remove the tachograph, if necessary for the purposes of inspection, retain the recording equipment as evidence if it has been subject to tampering, inspect the vehicle for devices that can be used to interfere with the functioning of the tachograph and retain any such devices as evidence. Under section 99ZB(3), officers will have a new power to have the vehicle taken to a place where they can carry out a more detailed inspection. Subsection (7) provides for compensation where this power is exercised in certain circumstances.

163.      Subsections (4) & (5) are based on section 99(2)(b) which allows officers to enter premises containing relevant vehicles and/or records. Officers are given similar rights in relation to premises containing digital tachographs or records made by digital tachographs Subsection (6) is based on section 99(3) of the 1968 Act which gives an officer the power to detain a vehicle whilst performing a check. It extends the power to cases where the officer is exercising his power to inspect digital tachograph records under section 99ZA.

164.     Subsection (7) creates a right to compensation linked to the new power to send vehicles for a detailed inspection in cases where there it is believed that a vehicle is fitted with an interference device. This right would apply where a vehicle was diverted by more than 5 miles for a check but no contravention of EU Regulation 3821/85 was discovered (EU Regulation 3821/85 is the EU Regulation which governs the fitting and use of tachographs). This right to compensation is modelled on a similar right contained in Section 78(6) of the RTA.

165.      Subsection (8) defines the term 'analogue tachograph'. Analogue tachographs are tachographs that use paper record sheets, as opposed to digital tachographs which will store information on digital memory chips.

New section 99ZC of the 1968 Act: supplementary provisions

166.     Subsection 99ZC(1) relates to digital tachographs. It gives officers the right to ask a driver to sign a printout of the information stored on their driver card or on the digital tachograph itself to confirm that it is accurate. If there are any inaccuracies, the driver will have to make manual corrections and then sign the printout.

167.     Subsection (2) prevents officers from retaining relevant records for more than 6 months unless they are required as evidence in proceedings.

168.     Subsection (3) preserves the effect of section 99(10). There are no substantive changes. The subsection makes it clear that officers are allowed to use equipment to 'read' tachograph records and to record them. In the case of digital tachographs, for example, officers will need to insert a control card and attach downloading equipment to the digital tachograph in order to read the data stored within its memory.

New section 99ZD of the 1968 Act: offence of failing to comply with requirements or obstructing an officer

169.     This section is based on section 99(4) & (4A) of the 1968 Act.

170.     Subsection (2) increases the maximum fine for obstructing an officer in the exercise of his powers under sections 99ZB to 99ZF, or for failing to meet the requirements of sections 99ZA to 99ZC (e.g. failing to hand over records). The maximum fine would be increased from a level 3 fine under the existing provisions of the 1968 Act to a level 5 fine.

Section 99ZE: Offence of making false records and recording false data etc.

171.     This section is based on section 99(5) which makes it an offence to falsify relevant records. .

172.     Subsection (1) now makes it clear that it is an offence to fail to make a relevant record. For example, some drivers do not insert a blank record sheet into their tachograph when they begin work. This creates the false impression that they have been driving for a shorter period.

173.     Subsection (3) makes similar provision for digital tachograph records.

174.     Two new offences are created. It is to be an offence to permit a person to make false records, alter, destroy or suppress records or to fail to make records. It is also to be an offence to supply devices designed to interfere with the functioning of a tachograph. Both offences are subject to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

New section 99ZF of the 1968 Act: power to seize documents

175.     This section is based on section 99(6) of the 1968 Act which provides for the seizure of documents if an officer has reason to believe that relevant records have been falsified. The only substantive change is subsection (3), which makes provision for Scotland.

176.     Paragraphs 5 to 7 make consequential amendments to sections 99A, 101 and 103 of the 1968 Act. References to section 99, which is to be replaced in its entirety, are to be replaced with references to equivalent parts of the new sections 99ZA to 99ZE.

Clause 42: Vehicles modified to run on fuel stored under pressure

177.     This clause amends (i) section 41 of the RTA, which empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations dealing with the construction and use of vehicles, and (ii) section 66 of the RTA, which empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations prohibiting the grant of vehicle licences except on certain conditions.

178.     The powers under section 41(2) are extended to regulate specifically the modification of vehicles to enable them to be powered by fuel stored under pressure. They would apply to fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas ("LPG") and compressed natural gas ("CNG") which, because they are stored under pressure, have a higher risk of explosion than petrol or diesel stored at ambient pressure. Regulations made under section 41 are enforceable through section 42 of the RTA. Section 42 makes it an offence to contravene or fail to comply with construction and use requirements, or to use on a road a motor vehicle which does not comply with such requirements.

179.     There is currently no mechanism for inspecting the safety of alternative fuel vehicle modifications or for preventing vehicles that have been so modified from being used on a road. Vehicles are often modified after they have been registered, and the adequacy of that modification will not be covered by annual 'MOT' tests.

180.     Under the new section 41(2A) powers, the Secretary of State could introduce a new scheme, requiring modified vehicles to be tested by authorised examiners and issued with a new form of certificate verifying satisfactory modification. Examiners could be audited by the Secretary of State in accordance with the regulations. Authorised examiners could be required to notify the Secretary of State of any vehicle modification carried out (whether or not a certificate was issued).

181.     Once regulations under section 41(2) are made, the Secretary of State could provide under existing powers for the annual "MOT test" to check the continuing safety of any alternative fuel modifications on a vehicle.

182.     The clause also amends section 66 to enforce the new certification provisions through the vehicle licensing regime (under which it is an offence to drive without a valid licence). The new section 66(7A) will ensure that evidence of a certificate of a satisfactory examination will be required before a licence can be granted in respect of a modified vehicle.

Clause 43: Powers to regulate transport of radioactive material

183.     Regulations for the safe transport of radioactive material by road are made under the Radioactive Material (Road Transport) Act 1991 ("the 1991 Act").

184.     The successful enforcement of these regulations depends on understanding the causes behind incidents and accidents involving the transport of radioactive material. This enforcement is hampered when individuals refuse to provide assistance and information voluntarily to inspectors conducting investigations.

185.     Clause 43 amends the regulation making powers of section 2 of the 1991 Act by allowing the making of regulations:

  • to impose formal requirements for the provision of assistance and information on those involved in the transport of radioactive material; and

  • to authorise such requirements being imposed by inspectors when conducting an investigation.

186.     The scope of the offence in section 2(4) is expanded so that it will be an offence for any person to contravene or fail to comply with any requirement imposed by or by virtue of regulations made under section 2.

Clause 44: Private hire vehicles in London

187.     This will amend section 1(1)(a) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

188.     Section 1(1)(a) currently reads:

     "private hire vehicle" means a vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers which is made available with a driver to the public for hire for the purpose of carrying passengers, other than a licensed taxi or a public service vehicle".

189.     The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 provides a system of licensing for private hire operators, private hire drivers and private hire vehicles based in London. The commonly accepted term for "private hire vehicle" (PHV) is minicab, but the Act covers a wider range of services, such as limousines and chauffeur cars.

190.     As it stands, the 1998 Act requires an individual to acquire licences where the private hire service he provides is available to the public. Where an individual provides a private hire service which is restricted to carrying a specified passenger or group of passengers (e.g. a contract with a local authority) he falls outside the 1998 Act. He can provide his service without requiring an operator's licence, a driver's licence or a vehicle licence.

191.     The clause will ensure that the original intention of the legislation is met, that is to bring within the PHV licensing regime all PHV operators, drivers and vehicles whether they are providing a service to selected individuals or groups or to the public at large.

previous Section contents continue
House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page search Page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared: 30 November 2004