Senior Traffic Commissioner Appointed

Congratulations to our own Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Region Richard Turfitt who has just been appointed Senior Traffic Commissioner to take effect from 1 June, having been in post in Cambridge since 2008.

There are seven regional offices of the  Traffic Commissioner and the central licensing office at Leeds.

The role of the Traffic Commissioners in their regions is autonomous in the sense that they have delegated to them directly the responsibility in their region for:

  • the licensing of the Operators of Heavy Goods Vehicles and Buses and Coaches
  • the registration of local bus services
  • granting vocational licences and taking action against drivers of HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) and PSVs (Public Service Vehicles)
  • the environmental suitability of centres designated as parking locations for HGV’s

The present system of Goods Operator licensing was introduced by the Transport Act 1968 and has developed over the years.

Whilst the autonomy of the individual Traffic Commissioners is still respected, the role of the Senior Traffic Commissioner has come more to the fore in developing guidance for operators and drivers who are regulated by them. It makes sense for there to be a perceived consistency of approach of Traffic Commissioners throughout the country.

The stated aims of the guidance is “to ensure fair competition through a consistent approach to the regulatory requirements” and it is fair to say that the Traffic Commissioners generally are keen to promote growth while always bearing in mind and maintaining a balance with the public safety.

There are 377,748 heavy goods vehicles covered by Operator Licenses and in tandem with the Traffic Commissioner’s department the enforcement arm of the DVSA, VOSA operate a system designed to target those vehicles and operators in high risk categories.

The main tool available to Traffic Commissioners for enforcement purposes is the Public Inquiry where they may withdraw a licence altogether (revoke), suspend operations for a period of time (suspension) or reduce the number of vehicles allowed under the licence (curtailment) as well as issuing formal warnings.

To get a flavour of the level of business done 270 HGV licences and 75 PSV licences were revoked last year.

Being steeped in the commercial needs and resources of operators within the industry the Traffic Commissioner system is an invaluable force for achieving the vital aim of public safety on our roads whilst reducing the regulatory burden on the commercial vehicle industry that is already compliant.

This article first appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times 24th May 2017.

Dermott Thomas is a partner and specialist litigator/advocate at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich solicitors

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