O-Licence Curtailment Follows Rail Bridge Strikes

A NORTH Lanarkshire haulage company has had its fleet of 14 vehicles curtailed to 12 by the Scottish Traffic Commissioner at a Public Inquiry following two bridge strike incidents. A driver was also suspended for six weeks.
Pat Boyle Transport Ltd, trading from Palacecraig Street, Coatbridge was called, along with driver Gerard Breen, to a PI and conjoined Driver Conduct Hearing by STC Claire Gilmore, held remotely by videoconference on 25 January 2021.
The Inquiry followed a bridge strike at Inverkeilor in July 2020 in which Mr Breen was driving the vehicle involved. The railway bridge in question suffered damage and the road was closed for two hours.
Mr Boyle also advised the STC that there had been a second railway bridge strike which occurred in December 2020 at Clydebank and involved one of the operator’s vehicles driven by an agency driver.
The Traffic Commissioner said that Mr Boyle’s concern at the fact that his vehicles had been involved in bridge strike incidents was apparent: “The operator is a respected and long-established company which put customer service first. Standards were high. Mr Boyle employed most of his drivers and had a relatively low turnover of staff. His daughter, also a CPC holder, worked with him in the business. Mr Boyle undertook the training of new drivers himself.
“Mr Boyle’s vehicles were well maintained and safety was of high importance. As an example, he told me about his proactivity in switching maintenance provider when he had become concerned about the standards being applied by his existing provider. Following the first bridge strike, there had been a desk-based assessment undertaken by DVSA which did not highlight any concerns. His drivers were provided with a copy of the Network Rail guidance on avoiding bridge strikes.
“In relation to route planning, his evidence was that he knew the roads in Scotland and the North of England ‘like the back of his hand’ and that he was always available to give advice on routes to drivers.
“At Inverkeilor, Mr Breen had taken a detour during which the railway bridge was hit. He accepted full responsibility for the incident, which he regretted. He was dismissed from his employment at Pat Boyle Transport as a result of it.”
In coming to her decision, Ms Gilmore recognised that there were many positives in this operator’s case. “Mr Boyle had taken the action I would except of a responsible operator when he became concerned about standards of maintenance offered by his provider and I noted that he had brought the second bridge strike to my attention voluntarily. Nevertheless, the operator had been involved in two bridge strikes within six months of each other.
“Having had regard to starting points set out in the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Document No.10 I have decided to curtail this licence to 12 vehicles. That curtailment to take effect from 8 February 2021.
“I found Mr Breen’s candour at Inquiry much to his credit. At the time of the inquiry, six months had passed since the incident and Mr Breen was in employment with a new operator. Importantly, apart from the bridge strike, Mr Breen had an exemplary driving record. Accordingly, I am prepared to stop short of revocation and instead impose a period of suspension of Mr Breen’s vocational LGV driving entitlement for six weeks with effect from 19 February 2021.”

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