The government has warned that prosecution and prison sentences will be considered by Vosa for LGV drivers who falsify their hours records.

Transport minister Norman Baker tells MT: "Drivers and operators should be in no doubt that we take the abuse of drivers’ hours very seriously and VOSA has the powers to impose tough penalties where the rules have been broken. Serious infringements may lead to prosecution and prison sentences have been passed by courts in the most serious cases."

Baker was responding to calls from the RHA for tougher action to be taken against law-flouting drivers, urging mandatory prison sentences are used as a deterrent.

Geoff Dunning, RHA chief executive, says: "Falsifying driving records is planned in advance and is one of the most serious offences in road haulage. Drivers do it because they can carry on driving for far longer than permitted under EU safety rules, which are designed to protect themselves and others."

He adds that the offence seems to be becoming more common, possibly due to increased economic pressures, but more likely because "ineffective enforcement" has increased the temptation to break the law.

The RHA wants the government to ensure adequate direction and resourcing for Vosa, along with more support from the police and the Magistrates' Association.