Non-UK hauliers who break road traffic laws can now be fined or have their vehicles immobilised under new road safety proposals published today by road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick.
Police and examiners from the Vehicle Operator and Service Agency will from next year have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to hauliers for offences such as breaking driving hours, carrying loads over the weight limit or non-compliance with vehicle safety regulations.
They will also have the authority to prohibit any driver who has broken the rules from continuing a journey by immobilising the vehicle.
In addition, on the spot penalties for road offenses may be issued to any non-UK driver and penalty points can be awarded to a driver’s record.
Fitzpatrick said: “These tough new measures mean non-UK drivers who break our laws will find themselves in a similar position to UK drivers who are either issued with a fixed penalty or prosecuted in court.
“From next year all drivers without a satisfactory UK address who commit offences will have to pay a financial penalty deposit equal to the amount of the fixed penalty – or up to £300 as a surety in respect of a potential court fine.
“Our message is clear – those who break the rules of the road will not get away with it, irrespective of whether or not they live in the UK.
“The only way to avoid a penalty will be to ensure that vehicles are fully roadworthy, drivers comply with UK road traffic law and commercial vehicle drivers do not break drivers’ hours rules or run with an overloaded vehicle.”
The FTA has welcomed the move. Geoff Dossetter, director of external affairs, said: “Sadly, the safety record of foreign lorries working in the UK is very unsatisfactory and, on a mile for mile basis, a foreign lorry is about three times more likely to be involved in an accident than a UK vehicle.
“We welcome government investment to improve enforcement levels together with the new regulations allowing for offending foreign vehicles to be immobilised, made safe, and to pay a fine before they are allowed to continue their journey. This all makes good sense and will hopefully increase road safety and reduce accidents.
He continued: “About one in seven of the heaviest vehicles on UK roads comes from overseas and, because of the ultra-high diesel duty imposed in the UK, is working on cheaper continental fuel.
“At the same time standards of maintenance and legal compliance for foreign vehicles is inferior to the UK fleet – VOSA statistics show that foreign lorries are more often overweight, over hours and less roadworthy.
“The application of the new regulations, plus increased enforcement, will hopefully reduce these problems and help level the grossly uneven playing field on which the UK transport industry is obliged to operate on its own roads.”