NZ Truck & Driver News

 
“Unfit” repeat offender truckies targeted

“Unfit” repeat offender truckies targeted

NZ Truck & Driver News

 June 2019   
Truck drivers with a history of repeat offending – apparently of any kind – are now at risk of losing their licences under a new regulatory regime.

The New Zealand Transport Agency, widely criticised for its poor regulatory record, says it's introducing "a new pro-active monitoring regime, aimed at identifying drivers who consistently compromise road safety and break the law."

Targeted are Class 2-5 commercial vehicle drivers who are "not fit and proper to work in a transport service," says NZTA general manager, regulatory, Kane Patena, in advice to the industry.

Factors under scrutiny include repeated disqualifications, suspensions, offences, fines history and criminal convictions.

"Unfit drivers will have their heavy vehicle licence disqualified, suspended or revoked… The maximum term is 10 years. 

"Each case will be considered on an individual basis and drivers will have the right to make submissions as well as appeal their case in a court of law." 

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Truck drivers with a history of repeat offending – apparently of any kind – are now at risk of losing their licences under a new regulatory regime.
The New Zealand Transport Agency, widely criticised for its poor regulatory record, says it's introducing "a new pro-active monitoring regime, aimed at identifying drivers who consistently compromise road safety and break the law."
Targeted are Class 2-5 commercial vehicle drivers who are "not fit and proper to work in a transport service," says NZTA general manager, regulatory, Kane Patena, in advice to the industry.
Factors under scrutiny include repeated disqualifications, suspensions, offences, fines history and criminal convictions.
"Unfit drivers will have their heavy vehicle licence disqualified, suspended or revoked… The maximum term is 10 years. 
"Each case will be considered on an individual basis and drivers will have the right to make submissions as well as appeal their case in a court of law." 
Patena says that the Agency's "approach will be firm but fair and I want to make it clear from the outset that good drivers with the odd infringement have absolutely nothing to be concerned about.
"We are talking here about drivers who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unwilling to change their concerning behaviour, despite multiple run-ins with Police and the Courts.
"These are people who clearly have little regard for the safety of other road users and have continued to incur large numbers of traffic offences, criminal offences and multiple demerit points suspensions."
It amounts, he adds, to "a very small group of repeat offenders amongst the 390,000 licence holders." It has been reported that the figure is around 800.
The monitoring regime will "keep tabs on drivers who consistently offend at a level that would have previously flown under our radar." Only checked "when they came to our attention, for example via an audit, applying for endorsement or if they were involved in a serious incident." 
The NZTA has previously acknowledged its "regulatory compliance regime wasn't robust enough," he says, adding: "This work is about improving on that and making our roads safer for all NZers. 
"My hope is that transport companies will vet drivers before letting them get behind the wheel of a vehicle. A number of companies carry out these checks and constantly monitor the activities of their drivers, whether this be through the TORO (Transport Organisation Register Online), GPS in their vehicles or actively completing due diligence through reference checking." 
Patena adds that he "would like to see these practical steps….become more widespread and industry standard." 
The Road Transport Forum's manager technical and roading, Kerry Arnold, says it's difficult to judge the impact of the NZTA's new approach, as the number of commercial drivers targeted "is a small subset of all the Class 2-5 driver population."
There is, he points out, "a specific responsibility" for employers "to rehabilitate drivers and mitigate poor driving techniques. This approach will bring benefits for all the parties involved and improve occupational safety overall."
But Arnold says that to provide employers with the opportunity to "identify drivers at risk," the RTF has called on the NZTA to "explore development of a sophisticated reporting and notification system that goes far beyond the limited capability of TORO."
National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken says that, like the RTF, the association sees safety as the top priority – but is critical of the regime's lack of a warning system for operators who have drivers targeted.
"What they've done is cut them (operators) off at the knees. People have businesses to run here – operators have got plans for tomorrow….and come tomorrow the driver has rung up to say 'sorry, I've lost my licence.' How can you work around that?
"If a driver is getting close to losing their licence, the operator needs to know. A warning system would allow them to make other plans. That's our big issue and in that respect, we are investigating it legally."  


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