Positive result for Howard Snaith Coaches

Foster Tachographs Limited are pleased to publish a press release from our clients Howard Snaith Coaches which confirms the outcome of a lengthy court case following an investigation which started approximately four years ago. The operator always denied the allegation of conspiracy and we are pleased for them and a number of their drivers and employees that they were found not guilty. We wish them every success in the future and look forward to continuing to work with them and a copy of their press release can be found below.

Press Release

On 18 March 2011, DVSA Officers with the assistance of the local Police executed a search warrant at the business premises of Howard Snaith and Partners of Otterburn. That search began an investigation which has taken four years to conclude; during that time the lives and the good business name of Howard Snaith’s has been dragged through the mud.

Both Alison Snaith and the business have always vehemently denied the offence of Conspiracy to falsify tachograph records.

On 23 March 2015 at Newcastle Crown Court, Howard Snaith and Partners and Alison Snaith along with a number of employees were found not guilty of these allegations, which were without any foundation.

During the course of an investigation, Alison Snaith foolishly produced four tachograph records to replace four which have been lost. To that extent only, Mrs Snaith pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Snaith’s have been completely exonerated of the conspiracy allegations made against them. It has taken four years for the truth to come out.

That the truth has come out is due to our legal team of Tony Cross QC, Kathryn Johnson, Daniel Thomas of Lincoln House Chambers, Scott Bell of Backhouse Jones Solicitors, Brian Hegarty of David Gray Solicitors and Gordon Humphreys of Foster Tachographs.

Snaiths would also like to thank the customers and suppliers who have stood by them during this period.

The sentencing hearing has been adjourned until 21 April 2015.

Fixed Penalty tickets and Roadside Deposits

Section 90 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 and the Road Safety Act 2006, allowed both VOSA and the Police to issue a variety of Fixed penalty notices at the roadside.

These differed from the Fixed Penalty tickets that the Police had been issuing since the early 1980’s in four l key areas.

Commercial Vehicle Offences came into the equation in relation to Drivers Hours breaches, primarily under EEC 3821/85 and EC 561/2006.

breaches of overweight regulations, which had been available previously as a £30 “non- specific Fixed penalty”, were brought into the net.

and perhaps most revolutionary, Drivers who did not have or were unable to prove that they had a “satisfactory UK address” would be required to pay, “ON THE SPOT”, the financial element of the Notice before being allowed to leave.

offending Drivers from outside the UK, who did not hold a UK Licence, could be allocated Penalty Points in relation to Endorsable offences on, in effect, “a ghost licence” created at DVLA.

A whole new sliding scale of penalties was also introduced in relation to offences that had a “numeric” attribute to them. For example, Exceeding Daily Driving Time or taking Insufficient Daily Rest could, in effect, be measured as to the degree of the seriousness of the breach in terms of a temporal value – hence “graduated”.

In other words, the worse the level of breach, the higher the level of fine to the point where it was determined that the breach was so serious that a Court appearance was warranted.

This was exactly the same for “overweight” vehicles where the greater the “overweight” the higher the fine.

Speeding would also appear to be an ideal type of offence for this “sliding scale” or “graduated system” as it can be measured as to the level of the breach. However, the Government decided that this was not the time to be that “revolutionary”.

A large number of other “Drivers Hours” related offences also had a Penalty attached to them but this penalty was “Fixed”. This was because the extent of the breach could not be measured by a value. For example, Failing to Keep a Record and Failing to Produce records at the roadside were “de facto” breaches without being able to be measured – hence the Penalty being Fixed – at £200 the current maximum.

A whole host of other breaches of EEC 3821/85 Articles 13-15, were allocated a Fine Level of £120 and bracketed under the amorphous heading of “incorrect use of equipment”. This included things such as Centrefield entries, Mode Switching and the like.

It is generally believed that the creation of False records could not be dealt with by the Fixed Penalty system but the system seems to be in place to do so – but is it by accident or design? The fine levy of £120 for the incorrect use of equipment includes breaches of article 15 of EEC 3821/85. In the initial draft of EEC 3821/85, Article 15 only went up to Sub section 7. When EEC 3821/85 was revised in 2006 (ostensibly to take into account the introduction of Digital Tachographs) it suddenly had an Article 15 sub section 8 – creating the offence of False records under Article 15 – ”incorrect use of equipment” and thus being liable to a £120 fine.

But don’t tell VOSA………………..

The Misinformation Minefield

The Internet has changed everyone’s lives and at the same time has made a vast reservoir of information available, at the click of a keyboard.

In the realm of Legislation, as it applies to Commercial Vehicle Drivers, this can be a two edged sword as the Internet remains an open but frequently, inaccurate source.

Here are just a few examples of what we mean:

Example 1

The above graphic was widely published on the internet to show how to legally interrupt a Daily Rest period in reference to a Ferry Crossing. If the above pattern was in reality to be implemented, the driver would likely be summonsed for “Failing to Take a Legal Daily Rest period” as only 10 hours and 10 minutes Rest has been accumulated.

11 hours rest is required to be accumulated in total to make the interruptions lawful. Who was the author of this? It was one of the Enforcement Agencies. It has now been amended but only after several years of availability and its use is still seen on transport office walls around the UK

Example 2

Another example on a well-known UK based site, the following information is provided: Compensatory [Weekly Rest] hours should be added to a rest period of at least 8 hours”. Clearly this should now read “at least 9 hours and also could be added to a Regular or Reduced Weekly Rest period”.

Example 3

Misinformation, in relation to the Working Time / Road Transport Directive, is probably even more widespread on the Internet. For example, freely available on a UK based website, is the following information: If you continue to work up until you accumulate 9 hours of WTD then you must take a further 15 minute break. You can take this additional break at any time throughout the day once your duty has begun, and it may also be included on the end of another break, but it must be no later than after 9 hours of total WTD.” This implies that the 45 minutes of “Qualifying” breaks required for a period of aggregated Working Time over 9 hours, must be taken before the 9 hours of working time has been accrued!

Example 4

On another website the following examples are given – Not being sarcastic, but there are only 2 errors in this – can you spot them?

Please NOTE this is not our (Foster Tachographs Limited) interpretation, but that of erroneous providers on the internet

This example shows how the RTWTR will ensure that drivers take breaks even if their driving time doesn’t reach 4.5 hours. After 6 hours’ work (4 hours’ other work and 2 hours’ driving) the driver is committed to taking a 30-minute break, under the RTWTR rules. After a further 3 hours’ work (all of it non-driving), a further break of 15 minutes is required, again under the RTWTR rules. This makes a total of 45 minutes’ breaks for the 9-hour working period.

Other work Driving Break Other work Break Other work

4 hours 2 hours 30 minutes 3 hours 15 minutes 1 hour


Did you spot them?

Misinformation – they claim that the break after 6 hours must be 30 minutes – no you don’t the required break is 15 minutes after 6 hours – the 30 minutes break relates to the total (not individual) break required if the working time is between 6-9 hours

Misinformation – they claim, as shown in example 3 above that after 9 hours working you then need to have had the total of 45 minutes break

Sadly, we know that these erroneous interpretations of Working Time Directive breaks are still being provided in approved driver CPC training courses.

However, misinformation is not restricted to the Internet.

One well known National Company, operating under EC 561/2006 – the Goods Vehicle element – paid for an expensive Driver CPC Training Course only to be delivered the PCV variety, but not the EC561/2006 version that was advertised, they were given PCV Domestic Regulations!

And just last week we undertook an audit of an Operator’s systems and found that the software they are using is providing incorrect information in that the severity of offences is being under-reported and in some cases ‘offences’ which aren’t offences are being reported.

The best advice – get proper training, know the law inside out, if in doubt ask your Transport Manager (he is ultimately responsible), stick to the current VOSA guidelines or give Foster Tachographs Limited a call and we’ll be pleased to help.