3 International vehicles |
21. The number of foreign-registered vehicles
being driven on UK roads continues to rise. The proxy often used
to measure the volume of foreign-registered heavy goods traffic
on Britain's roads is the number of foreign-registered vehicles
leaving the country. In 2008, 1.67 million
foreign-registered vehicles left the UK, having fallen back slightly
from an all-time high of 1.72 million in 2007.
Foreign-registered vehicles account for more than 80% of the heavy
goods traffic leaving the UK, and the proportion of vehicles which
are registered in the newest EU Member States has increased rapidly
in recent years. In 2008, 35% of all powered goods vehicles leaving
the UK were registered in the 12 newest EU Member States.
22. Foreign vehicles are statistically more likely
to be non-compliant than UK vehicles. Since 2005-06, prohibition
rates for foreign-registered vehicles have consistently been significantly
higher than those for UK registered vehicles for all offences.
Foreign-registered HGVs are also, reportedly involved in more
accidents than UK-registered vehicles.Table
2: Prohibition rates for UK registered and foreign-registered
|Prohibition rate for vehicles and trailers tested for roadworthiness
|Prohibition rate for vehicles tested for drivers' hours and tachograph offences
|Prohibition rate for vehicles tested for overloading
Effectiveness Report 2007-08, Tables A1.30 and A1.36
23. In 2007-08, the prohibition rate
among Czech HGVs subjected to roadworthiness tests was more than
60% with Polish and Hungarian vehicles also exceeding 50%. Belgian,
German and Italian vehicles all had prohibition rates of more
than 40% of those tested.
These figures are all the more worrying when taking into account
that sophisticated targeting techniques which are used to select
UK vehicles for testing cannot be used for foreign-registered
vehicles. VOSA is able to target known and likely UK registered
offenders through the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS), but
examiners have to rely on weigh-in-motion sensors (WIMS) and Automatic
Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems alone for foreign-registered
24. Industry representatives also argued that
the penalties for non-compliant foreign operators were unsatisfactory.
They therefore welcomed the new system of graduated fixed penalties
though the Road Haulage Association doubted whether even this
would create a level playing field:
There is nothing more galling than to pull up a foreign
truck, find there is something wrong and just tell the driver
to rest up and [
] when he has had his four-hour break he
can go on his way. To the UK operator, the penalties are much
more severe. If he is apprehended by VOSA in any way he has to
submit a letter to the Traffic Commissioner and say 'I have been
a naughty boy' and the Traffic Commissioner can call them in for
an interview and revoke his licence or reduce the number of vehicles
that he can operate.
25. The rise in the number of foreign-registered
heavy goods vehicles in the UK poses serious challenges to the
Government and to VOSA. Our 2008 report on Freight Transport pointed
to the damaging distortion of competition caused by foreign hauliers
who are able to operate with a cost base that is significantly
lower than that of their UK competitors.
An even more serious challenge is the high level of non-compliance
with basic road safety standards of foreign-registered vehicles
on UK roads. The
number of foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles on Britain's
roads, particularly from the newer EU Member States, is rising.
They bring unacceptable levels of non-compliance with basic road
safety standards. We recognise that the Government and VOSA cannot
specifically target foreign operators, but it is imperative that
the Government works intensively to identify ways to improve enforcement
and compliance among foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles.
26. In April 2008, The Government announced additional
funding of £24 million over three years to develop the High
Risk Traffic Initiative (HRTI). The objective of HRTI is to target
high risk traffic, much of which is international traffic, through
a 50% increase in vehicle checks. 148 staff will run the scheme
across 15 strategically located sites, with particular emphasis
on international vehicles entering the UK through Dover and Folkestone,
where 65% enter the UK.
This initiative followed a pilot in the South East of England
in 2007, where VOSA had put additional resources into enforcement
for high risk international traffic. In the course of this pilot,
the number of accidents on the M25 involving foreign-registered
vehicles had declined very significantly.
Industry representatives expressed support for the renewed focus
on enforcement in relation to non-compliant foreign-registered
vehicles, including additional funding and staff.
The VOSA Trade Union Side, however, raised concern that staffing
and systems were inadequate to achieve the objective of 24/7 inspection
services at all sites.
We are pleased to see the
Government and VOSA initiating schemes, such as the High Risk
Traffic Initiative (HRTI), which concentrate additional funding
and staff resources on those vehicles that pose the greatest risk
to road safety, often foreign-registered vehicles. It can only
be right that resources are concentrated where they are most likely
to save lives. This is a significant step in the right direction,
but we are concerned whether the number of additional staff is
adequate, and we urge the Government and VOSA to take immediate
action if it becomes clear that more staff is required for such
Graduated Fixed Penalty, Financial
Penalty Deposit and Immobilisation Scheme
27. The Graduated Fixed Penalty, Financial Penalty
Deposit and Immobilisation Scheme, which we have previously called
for, was finally introduced in May 2009.
The Government hopes that the scheme will provide a robust deterrent
against non-compliance among foreign vehicles.
The scheme enables police officers and VOSA examiners to:
a) issue fixed penalties to UK and non-UK-resident
b) request immediate financial deposits from
non-UK-resident offenders and those without a credible address
within the UKeither in respect of a fixed penalty or as
a form of surety in respect of an offence which is subsequently
to be prosecuted in court, and
c) immobilise vehicles in any case where a driver
or vehicle has been prohibited from continuing a journey or in
any case where a driver declines to pay the requested deposit.
28. Stephen Tetlow, the then Chief Executive
of VOSA, told us that the introduction of fixed penalties which
could be used at the roadside gave inspectors a very important
new weapon against foreign operators. He expected the deterrent
impact of these new powers to be substantial.
The VOSA Trade Union Side expressed some concern about the safety
of staff handling cash and imposing stricter regulations without
a police presence.
These concerns are valid and the safety of staff members must
be a priority. However, despite these reservations, the scheme
provides real new powers which will have a direct impact on VOSA's
ability to penalise offending foreign operators. Witnesses were
broadly in support of these new powers as a way of tackling foreign
vehicle non-compliance, but we note that the range of fines available
is small, i.e. up to £200,
and this instrument is therefore not likely to deter serious and
29. We welcome the introduction
of the Graduated Fixed Penalty, Financial Penalty Deposit and
Immobilisation Schemes. We believe it will enhance VOSA's ability
to punish and deter non-compliance among non-UK operators. However,
the fines are small and we recommend that there should be increases
so that there is a real level of deterrence. The Government and
VOSA must continue to explore ways to strengthen VOSA's ability
to enforce vehicle and drivers' hours standards among foreign
operators on UK roads.
Developments in the European Union
30. The introduction of the Graduated Fixed Penalty,
Financial Penalty Deposit and Immobilisation Schemes represent
a step in the right direction. However, the only long-term solution
to the disproportionate level of infringements of vehicle safety
regulations by foreign-registered vehicles will be better co-operation
with authorities at EU level and in other EU countries. The Freight
Transport Association argued that the greatest improvement to
VOSA's enforcement work could be achieved by inspectors having
access to the vehicle registration databases of other EU Member
States, in order that operators based in other countries could
be traced and held to account, if necessary.
31. Britain has one of the best safety records
and one of the strictest enforcement regimes in Europe. A number
of witnesses highlighted that the regulation and enforcement of
the haulage and public service vehicle industries in the UK is
considered a model of best practice not only in Europe, but in
the world. Mr Philip
Brown, the Senior Traffic Commissioner told the Committee that
"quite clearly Great Britain comes up as the safest and best
regulated within the European Union and that is down to both VOSA
and the Traffic Commissioners".
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) concurred:
I think there is a recognition in Brussels and parts
of Europe that the UK is ahead on this. I think we are the only
country that regularly puts companies out of the industry for
non-compliance as opposed to just fining them. The drivers' hours
regulation 56106 recognises that implicitly when it says that
we should move to a system of banning companies who breach the
drivers' hours regulation on a regular basis. We are the only
country that does that. I think to a degree we are recognised
as a role model in parts of Europe.
The Freight Transport Association explained that
they, supported by the RHA, and the Department for Transport had
actively taken the message to Europe by organising a seminar for
colleagues from other EU Member States to demonstrate the virtues
of the British system:
That was so successful and it was such a well-attended
[event] that we are going to repeat it again next year. We are
doing all we think we can from the industry side to drive up those
standards and make our colleagues on the Continent aware of the
importance of this and the benefits of it.
32. We are pleased to hear that the Government,
VOSA and the industry organisations have all been involved in
working with European authorities and governments in other Member
States to help unify transport policy throughout Europe and that
Britain has been taking a lead in directing negotiations.
An agreement to create a Europe-wide database of safety performance
records by 2013 was reached at the Transport Council in June 2008.
This development is most welcome. Such collaboration with European
authorities is critical in order to help develop a Europe-wide
consensus on HGV and PSV safety regulations and to address the
problem of enforcing foreign vehicles travelling on British roads.
level, VOSA's enforcement work is seen as a model of best practice.
We congratulate VOSA on this achievement.
- We are pleased to learn that
the UK is taking the lead on work to improve enforcement and vehicle
safety within the European Union. We welcome the work that is
being done by officials from both VOSA and the Department for
Transport with the Transport Council and the European Commission
to co-ordinate work and develop a Europe-wide database of information
regarding the safety records of European operators. The implementation
of a Europe-wide database is vital work which is urgently needed
to help save lives across the continent. It is heartening that
the Government and industry representatives are working together
to educate colleagues elsewhere in Europe about the benefits of
our system and standards.
32 Department for Transport, Transport Statistics
Bulletin: Road Goods Vehicles Travelling to Mainland Europe
- 2008 Back
VOSA: Effectiveness Report 2007-08 Back
Ev 64, Road Haulage Association, para 18; Q 174-175; Daily Mail,
Polish drivers are worst culprits as road accidents caused
by foreign juggernauts soar, 10 May 2009; see also paragraph
26 of this report. Back
There are several types of enforcement action that a VOSA Officer
can take when confronted with a non compliant vehicle or driver.
They are: a verbal warning; one of a range of prohibition notices,
some of which come into effect immediately, whilst others come
into force after a certain time; an inspection notice, an offence
rectification notice, or a fixed penalty notice. Back
VOSA: Effectiveness Report 2007-08, Table A1.30 Back
Q 24 Back
Transport Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2007-08, Freight
Transport, HC249, para 112 ff Back
Ev 67, Department for Transport, paras 6.1 and 6.2; Qq 169-171 Back
Q 174-175 Back
Ev 64, Road Haulage Association, para 17; VOSA 14 Freight Transport
Association, para 1 Back
Ev 56, VOSA Trade Union Side, para 8 Back
Transport Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2007-08, Freight
Transport, HC249, para 122 Back
The scheme was initially legislated for in the Road Safety Act
2006 and a consultation on the implementing regulations was held
in 2008, see: DFT Graduated Fixed Penalties and Financial Penalty
Deposit Schemes: A Consultation, July 2008 Back
Explanatory notes to Statutory Instruments 2009/483, 488, 491,
493, 494, 495, and 498 Back
Q 155 Back
Ev 56, VOSA TUS, para 17 Back
VOSA: Enforcement Sanctions Policy Back
Q 32 Back
See for example Qq 22-23 Back
Q 112 Back
Q 23 Back
Q 23 Back
Qq 23, 112, 158 & 217 Back
Q 218; see also Ev 50, ITS UK Back