A South Lanarkshire HGV driver has been suspended from driving professionally for nine months after Scotland’s Deputy Traffic Commissioner found he deliberately falsified driving records.
William Duguid appeared before the Deputy Traffic Commissioner after government inspectors reported him for drivers’ hours offences, including creating false records and taking insufficient daily rest.
Out of 29 tachograph charts – which are used to record driving duty, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (incorporating VOSA and the DSA) examiners found a total of 42 offences, just over half of which were for false records. The analysis of his records came after Duguid was stopped at the roadside in February 2013.
At a driver conduct hearing in Edinburgh, Duguid’s solicitor accepted there were issues with his client’s driving records but said that Mr Duguid had no intention of attempting to falsify records or deceive the authorities.
Examiners found that the mileage records on the vehicle’s odometer and the distance captured on tachographs did not match mileage manually recorded at the start of his next journey. In evidence to the Commissioner, Duguid gave explanations for the false records.
Duguid said there had been instances where he left the vehicle at a delivery point and it may have been moved by another driver. On another occasion he had run out of time during a journey and the vehicle was driven by someone else while he followed in a car.
Duguid admitted that he had been wrong to take the mileage record from the end of his last journey when starting the next one – he should have used the actual mileage record on the vehicle’s odometer to provide an accurate record of his duties.
He also told the Deputy Commissioner that he had used the vehicle privately to travel to facilities after he had been parked up overnight but did not record this properly either.
Duguid admitted that he failed to capture the true mileage because he was concerned about being stopped by the police or traffic examiners.
His solicitor told the Deputy Commissioner there had been no financial incentive or reward in committing these offences and asked Mr McFarlane to find that the driver was fit to continue holding his professional licence.
However, the Deputy Commissioner rejected that position and much of the evidence submitted.
The regulator noted that Duguid had been licensed to drive professionally for 37 years but had been casual with his licence. In 2011, he was reported for driving without the correct entitlement after it had expired.
He was also reported for a false record at the same time – when Duguid admitted that he had not kept to the rules.
That 23 further false records had been found in 2013 led the Deputy Commissioner to ask why Duguid continued to commit offences if he knew it was wrong? The 2011 offence should have led to an improvement in his record keeping, he added.
The driver also admitted that he had falsified records in the past but did not need to now, a factor that the commissioner felt was significant in his deliberations.
“He told me many years ago that he had deliberately falsified charts but with his present boss there was no need to.
“I found this to be a very worrying statement. It told me he had made false records in the past and therefore has a propensity for doing so.”
He added: “When he said that with his present boss he had no need to falsify charts, that told me that he would be prepared to falsify charts if need be.”
Other aspects of evidence also concerned the Deputy Commissioner, including that he was still prepared not to record his duties when he runs out of time.
Reflecting on the patterns of offending revealed in this case, the commissioner said drivers concealing their duties were prepared to take the risk of driving while tired.
“In situations of this nature the explanation is invariably that the work undertaken by a driver cannot be lawfully carried out within the drivers’ hours rules and regulations.
“As often as not drivers ill-advisedly then start interfering with their record keeping in an attempt to generate records, which on the face of it disclose lawful driving.
“The real and worrying mischief in this is that if a driver is prepared to conceal his or her true driving and duty time, then that driver is prepared to take the risk of driving whilst tired with the likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel thereby significantly compromising their own safety and more worryingly the safety of other road users.”