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24 September 2014
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Eye On Wales: Foreign truckers beg police to catch them


Some foreign truckers on Wales' roads are so exhausted and desperate for a break that they are ringing police and begging to be pulled over.

 

Tonight's BBC Radio Wales' Eye On Wales programme reveals that the pressures on HGV drivers from the Continent are so intense that some resort to shopping themselves to the police as a way of getting a break.

 

Police have come across drivers who have been at the wheel for as much as 32-hours continuously as some freight companies strive to maximise profits by minimising the time their trucks are off the road.

 

But while officers can fine those drivers they catch flouting the rules on breaks and rest days, or take them off the road for a short period, they are generally unable to act against their employers.

 

Chief Supt Geraint Anwyl, of North Wales Police, leads the National Roads Policing Forum.

 

He is concerned about their lack of control over foreign haulage companies who pressurise drivers into excessive hours.

 

He tells the programme: "The drivers are committing offences, and clearly there's no excuse for that, but they're also victims in this – they are being exploited, it's a modern type of slave labour, in a sense.

 

"We're able to do something with the UK-based operators, because there are Traffic Commissioners who issue the operators' licences and are able to place strict conditions and take punitive measures against companies who are offending.

 

"But the same system doesn't necessarily apply across Europe."

 

While lorries engaged in international journeys represent less than one per cent of traffic on British roads, they are responsible for eight per cent of all road deaths.

 

Dorothy Thomas, from Anglesey, died earlier this year when a German driver drove into her head-on after 19-hours at the wheel.

 

Dorothy's husband, Gwyn, is still struggling to come to terms with her loss, which he sees as wholly avoidable.

 

He tells the programme: "If he had taken the rest, as the other drivers of two other vehicles which left Dortmund roughly about the same time, probably Dorothy would still have been alive today.

 

"It's very hard... I'm lost without her."

 

Meanwhile British hauliers are also under pressure to compete with their Continental counterparts, in the face of disparity over fuel prices and road tax.

 

They, too, are frustrated at what they see as lack of accountability on the part of foreign haulage operators.

 

Gill Sheddick, a former haulage operator and board member of the Freight Transport Association, says: "I think they try to enforce [the law] on foreign hauliers, and what happens is they take them to court, and they're issued with a fine, and the fine is never paid and the haulier is never chased.

 

"If you're a UK-based haulier, there is this corporate manslaughter issue being brought forward.

 

"But if you're a foreign operator, that doesn't apply to you, so that could be an issue we should be pushing in Brussels, that it has to become a European-wide regulation."

 

Eye on Wales, BBC Radio Wales, 6.30pm, Monday 13 October 2008

 

Notes to Editors

 

The programme must be credited if any information from this release is used.

 

BBC Wales Press Office

 

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Category: Wales
Date: 13.10.2008
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