Traffic Commissioners… a reminder

Published: 19/05/2017

Given our recent exciting news regarding Laura Thomas’ appointment, we thought that there was no better time to remind you about the important function Traffic Commissioners (TCs) and Deputy Traffic Commissioners (DTCs) hold in the transport industry. 

If you have been lucky enough to have only met a TC at a seminar or business event you may not fully appreciate the function and powers held by the Traffic Commissioners across the UK. 

What do they actually do?
TC mission statement: “to champion safe, fair and reliable passenger and goods transport”. 

TCs are responsible for the licensing of operators of heavy good vehicles (HGVs) and of public service vehicles (PSVs), registration of local bus services, granting vocational licenses and taking action against drivers of PSVs and HGVs. They are also responsible for the environmental sustainability of centres designated as parking locations for HGVs. 

TCs regulate the transport industry by promoting fair competition and road safety.  This is achieved in various ways such as considering new applications for operator licences, considering operator licences where there have been failings to meet undertakings on the licence and deliberating over vocational driver conduct. Where TCs consider that they may have to take regulatory action on a licence they will call a public inquiry at which they have the power to curtail, suspend or revoke an operator’s licence where they think it appropriate. 

TCs use their powers to ensure that those running PSVs and HGVs are reputable, competent and adequately funded. Any action taken by the TC is intended to encourage all operators to adopt more robust systems, which promote safety and fair completion. 

For the purposes of transport regulation the UK is divided into areas ie. Eastern, South East, North West and so on. Each area has a TC who is the regulator for that area. They are overseen by the STC and it was recently announced that Richard Turfitt, longstanding Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Area, is being appointed as STC.  

Each area also has a number of deputy TCs who assist the TC in their function.

That said TCs are also ambassadors for the transport industry and are active within the industry supporting, where they are able, trade bodies in their aims and promoting the industry as a whole.

Why do you need to know?

Many operator licence holders often hold them without understanding their 
importance. This is often the case when the transport operation is incidental to the business ie you are not in the haulage industry. In such cases many operator licence holders, or the directors of those companies, do not know what is happening with the transport function. For example, do you know the answers to the following questions?

  1. Are your procedures in place and working?
  2. Does your transport manager have effective management and control of the transport operation?
  3. How many drivers’ hours’ infringements has the company had in the last month?
If you cannot answer these questions you may want to consider whether you are meeting the undertakings on your licence. Those who are found not to be can find themselves in front of the TC, or one of the deputies. 

The content of this article is for general information only. Should you need any advice in relation to meeting the undertakings of your licence, look no further than this team. If you would like some assistance with any transport queries, please do get in touch with Philippa Dyer. Law covered as at May 2017. 

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