21 November 2012

Focus on... commercial vehicle unit

A day in the life of...PC Mark Nott and PC Laura Sloan

PC Mark Nott
16 years at Kent Police, nearly four years in the Commercial Vehicle Unit

Our role is to make sure the lorries, minibuses and vans using our roads are safe and those at the wheel are eligible to drive them. We’ve also recently received a number of reports about skips not being carried safely so have been keeping an eye out for those while on patrol.

When we stop a vehicle, we’re checking it is in a suitable condition to be on our roads and isn’t carrying too much load for example, which can make it dangerous. We also check the driver to make sure he or she has the required documents – insurance, a licence and the relevant categories on their licence for the vehicle they’re driving. We also check they are sticking to their legal requirements in terms of driver hours.

Yesterday Laura and I worked an early turn, 7am to 5pm, and patrolled the M20 around Maidstone. One of the jobs we dealt with yesterday was a yellow Sprinter van which caused us some concerns, so I had the driver follow us to a safe stopping place.

We inspected the van and found it was full of boxes and pulling a trailer which was equally full to bursting. Check out the pictures on our Flickr site.

Laura and I were concerned about the weight of the vehicle so had the driver follow us to a nearby weigh bridge and the vehicle clocked up more than eight tonnes – two tonnes heavier than the maximum load requirement! This clearly makes the vehicle too dangerous to drive as the steering and braking are impaired by the excess weight.

Paperwork I found in the van suggested it was being driven for business use but it had no TACO fitted – a legal requirement for the type of vehicle. I inspected the vehicle further and found a number of the lights on the van and the trailer weren’t working.

PC Laura Sloan
16 years in the police service, nearly four years in the Commercial Vehicle Unit
When we stop vehicles, Mark and I divide up the tasks so while he inspected the van and trailer yesterday, I ran checks on it and it quickly became clear the driver had no insurance, tax or MOT.

Because the driver didn’t have a UK address where we could contact him, we fined him £900 on the spot for the offences. 

We also seized the vehicle because it wasn't insured for the work it was doing and was being used for business purposes. We issued the driver with a vehicle rectification notice for the faulty lights.

As well as our patrols, we run regular operations with other agencies including VOSA, HM Customs and Excise, the Department for Transport and Kent County Council.

In an operation last year, which was the first of its kind for Kent Police, we patrolled the roads of Kent in a lorry, to identify HGV drivers committing offences. We gave out more than £11,000 of fines during the two-week operation, mainly for driving while distracted, driving not in control of the vehicle and for not wearing a seatbelt. Check out our YouTube site to view footage from the operation.

We also visit schools to check the condition of bus and minibus drivers, and educate them on their legal requirements. And we run seminars for business employers on safe driving.

Online chat
Don't forget there's an online chat with officers from the Roads Policing Unit tonight. Log on  between 6 and 7pm to ask any questions about our roles and policing on our roads. It's also a chance to get advice on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. Select this link to take part or watch the chat from 6pm.

Check our our driving and road safety advice on our website. 

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