180. Fatigue is a particular risk for long-distance
and haulage drivers. The Department for Transport's executive
agency, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) carries
out enforcement checks on commercial drivers and vehicles. The
2003-04 compliance checks identified that more than 20% of trucks
and drivers had paperwork offences: the biggest set of breaches
was drivers' hours rules.
These offences endanger all road users. The Freight Transport
Association indicated that foreign-registered heavy goods vehicle
operators posed particular problems on the UK road network.
In 2005, nine per cent of all heavy goods vehicles involved in
collisions in Great Britain were foreign-registered.
The Freight Transport Association stated:
there are a growing number of foreign operators on
the roads that do not operate to the same standards as UK operators,
particularly regarding drivers' hours infringements and overloading
] There needs to be increased exchanges of information
across all European states to ensure that the safety levels on
UK roads are maintained.
181. The Department for Transport told us that more
resources had been put into commercial vehicle compliance checks
and that between 2004 and 2005 checks and prohibitions in relation
to traffic issues (operator licences, tachographs, driver's hours
and such) increased by 16.4% and 53.7% respectively. It stated:
"the power to stop has enabled VOSA to increase roadside
check volumes, and vehicle prohibitions for serious defects. There
has also been increased deterrence, enhanced by the presence of
a fleet of liveried vehicles and uniformed Examiners."
Nevertheless, the Freight Transport Association and Brake both
indicated that the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency needed
more enforcement resources to better address these safety concerns.
Ms Williams, of Brake, stated:
there has been a slight increase in the last decade
in the number of traffic examiners who do enforcement for drivers'
hours rules, but only by 36 officers for the whole of the UK.
It is my understanding from liaising with VOSA and other agencies
that this is a major area of concern.
182. In addition, we are concerned by the indication
from the relevant trade unions that the Department is considering
'outsourcing' the enforcement work of VOSA.
It strikes us that this proposal is fraught with potential difficulties.
It could in effect introduce a private police force onto the UK's
roads which would be a fundamental departure from the existing
picture of law enforcement. The proposals would require very careful
vehicle and driver compliance checks should be properly resourced.
The Department for Transport and Vehicle and Operator Services
Agency should work together to enforce vehicle safety standards
on all vehicles, including foreign-registered Heavy Goods Vehicles.
We welcome measures in the Road Safety Bill that toughen the regime
for foreign-registered vehicles.