Haulage company fined after driver ‘deliberately attempted to conceal’ driving time

March 4, 2021

A DONEGAL haulage company has been sanctioned after one of its drivers failed to use a record sheet and driver card.

The case of K&J McBride Transport, trading as Donegal Groupage was before the latest sitting of Letterkenny District Court.

On nine dates from July 8, 2019 to August 6, 2019, driver Sydney Gibson was found to have driven without the required documentation in use.

Evidence from the Road Safety Authority showed that Gibson had made journeys of an average 89km before starting the record sheet for his shift and journeys of an average of 98km after officially ending his shift.

The longest such journey was one of 143km.

Mr John Kilroy from the RSA said that in the course of a checkpoint with Gardaí on August 6, 2019 when they encountered a vehicle, owned and operated by K&J McBride Transport and driven by Gibson.

Gibson made admissions in caution.

Mr Kilroy said the company had made a 10 per cent gain on time.

State solicitor Ciaran Liddy said that it was ‘a deliberate attempt to conceal’ the driving time and distance.

“This gives an unfair advantage to the accused company over a compliant company,” Mr Liddy said, adding that there was a concern that break times cannot be monitored properly when the card is not in use.

Mr Kilroy agreed, saying that driving then cannot be apportioned to the driver. “It is concealed and at the most serious end of the scale,” he said.

The company has no previous such convictions, the Court heard.

Solicitor Ms Donna Crampsie said that Gibson was providing self-declarations in a manual format with his employer.

Mr Kilroy said the need for manual records is now gone and the company is obliged to analyse a driver’s activity.

“He encountered the checkpoint at 6.15pm – a time when he would not expect to come across a checkpoint,” Mr Kilroy said.

Ms Crampsie said her client was entering a plea and the matter was a ‘source of significant stress and embarrassment’.

“They understand they are responsible,” she said. “That is not by way of an excuse, but the employer accepts responsibility. They allocated a workload they felt could have been comfortably achieved in the time and in compliance.

“They were not aware of any infractions.”

Ms Crampsie said the company had recently installed two new systems to ensure greater compliance and noted that Gibson’s employment has since ended.

Judge Paul Kelly said the matter was a ‘serious breach of regulations’.

“Whether they knew what was going on our not – they should have known,” Judge Kelly said.

Judge Kelly imposed a fine of €2,000 for a failure to use a record sheet on August 6, 2019. For failing to ensure that Gibson took a break after four and a half hours, the company was fined €500. In each case, Judge Kelly gave six months to pay and marked the other incidents into consideration in view of the early plea.