Suffolk: Lorry drivers endangering lives by spending too much time behind the wheel

NEARLY 500 lorry drivers travelling through Suffolk have been stopped and fined for spy-in-the-cab offences in the past two years, it was revealed today.

New figures show the truckers have been dealt with for 698 tachograph offences between them.

The machines, fitted in the cab of all heavy goods vehicles, monitor and record the number of hours driven each day, the times and lengths of drivers’ breaks from the wheel, and vehicle speeds.

Thousands of lorries use the county’s roads every day – including more than 4,500 travelling to and from the Port of Felixstowe, the country’s top container terminal, on the A12 and A14.

Two years ago Suffolk police decided to alter the way they deal with tachograph offences, deciding to issue fixed penalty notices rather than reporting offenders for summons and submitting a prosecution file culminating in a court appearance.


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Figures obtained by the Ipswich Star via the Freedom of Information Act show that in 2010 officers issued fines to 153 lorry drivers and in 2011 to 227.

In 2010, tickets dealt with 286 offences and in 2011, some 412 offences.

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“Tachograph offences are dealt with in a number of ways,” said a police spokesman.

“There are spot checks carried out by roads policing officers at various locations – these can be pre-planned or spontaneous checks where a patrolling officer will stop an HGV to check over for tacho and other offences.

“We also work with our partners in VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) and facilitate larger checks such as Operation Mermaid, which is a national campaign involving several other agencies such as VOSA and as well as Customs and the Health and Safety Executive.”

Currently, drivers are allowed to drive for nine hours a day, and ten hours twice a week, and must take 45 minute rest breaks between each 4.5-hour period. The maximum weekly driving is 56 hours.

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