Groupe Charles André-owned Simon Gibson Transport has escaped with a formal warning from deputy traffic commissioner (TC) Tony Secular after drivers at the firm were found to be in breach of drivers’ hours rules.

Secular said he was satisfied that steps had been taken at the bulk powder tanker operator to change a culture among some of its drivers to record breaks, instead of other work, when they were actually loading and unloading their vehicles in a bid to get around the Working Time Directive.

Secular had been considering action against the company’s North Eastern, North Western and Eastern traffic area licences.

This was in addition to a variation to its West Midland licence and applications for new licences in the South Eastern and Metro-politan, and Scottish traffic areas after the acquisition of a new contract.

Traffic examiner John Raynor said a DVSA investigation in June last year revealed what the drivers had been doing.

It had not led to a significant breach but it did have implications for the Working Time Directive.

Drivers admitted they were recording breaks whenever they could, to get around the Working Time Directive.

General manager Steve Smith said there had been  drivers’ hours and tachograph systems in place before the DVSA investigation that focused on drivers’ hours compliance.

The perception had been that if they were EU compliant they would also be compliant with the Working Time Directive.

Taking no regulatory action against the existing licences and granting the applications at the close of a two-day public inquiry, the deputy TC said he was satisfied there had been a breach of the undertaking in relation to monitoring drivers’ hours and working time.

However, the nature and number of the infringements in relation to the size of the operation showed this operator was not flouting the regulations to obtain an unfair advantage or affect road safety.

He said this was a generally compliant operator that had co-operated fully with the DVSA and had invested heavily in systems, and transport manager arrangements that enabled it to believe it could obtain full compliance.

By Michael Jewell