New guidance for Transport Managers: are you managing effectively?
The role of Transport Manager has always been onerous. This individual is required to ensure the legal requirements for road haulage are met as well as taking responsibility for directing, coordinating, planning and overseeing tasks and operations within an organisation involving transportation activities.
The newly updated statutory guidance for Transport Managers (or Statutory Document 3 as it is known) issued by the office of the Senior Traffic Commissioner has reaffirmed the importance and obligations linked to this role and suggests now, more than ever, that Transport Managers must ensure they are effectively fulfilling their role or face the consequences at a public tribunal.
The new guidance
The Senior Traffic Commissioner is permitted by law to give guidance and directions in respect of the circumstances in which the Senior Traffic Commissioner may impose a sanction or penalty. This guidance and direction is freely available on the gov.uk website and explains the way traffic commissioners working on behalf of the Senior Traffic Commissioner will approach the exercise of their statutory functions. As such, it is a useful starting point for any Transport Manager to understand the expectations placed upon them by legislation and how it may be interpreted should they find themselves before a traffic commissioner.
Statutory Document 3, which was updated by the Senior Traffic Commissioner in November 2020 relates to Transport Managers. Those who were familiar with the previous iteration of this document will be interested to know the focus of this version 7.1 is the importance of the role of Transport Manager and the expectation that the Senior Traffic Commissioner has of an individual in this role.
An organisation is required to have a Transport Manager if it holds either a standard national or standard international operator’s licence. Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 sets out the requirements for a Transport Manager, namely that they must:
- Be of good repute
- Be professionally competent (i.e. hold the requisite skill by passing a written examination), and
- Effectively and continuously manage the transport activities of the undertaking.
It has been confirmed in the recent case of 2018/046 Mark Clinton that the Senior Traffic Commissioner expects Transport Managers to be familiar with the above requirements.
Statutory Document 3 has also been updated to reiterate that a Transport Manager ‘should not be one in name only but should actively discharge their duty’. Statutory Document 3 reminds the Transport Manager that they must be ‘more than just a transport manager in name’.
The consequences of non-compliance
Statutory Document 3 makes it clear that a Transport Manager who fails to follow this guidance may find themselves before a traffic commissioner at a public tribunal as an individual, where they will have to account for their action (or inaction) and may be at risk of losing their good repute and their job.
This loss of repute will usually last for a specified period and an individual may only be permitted to reapply for the role of Transport Manager on the condition that they undertake the initial training and qualification again.
Transport Managers will be aware of the requirements of their role as a result of the professional training required, however, as has been evident at recent tribunals, traffic commissioners expect Transport Managers to keep this training up to date with regular refreshers. Further, as was highlighted in the case of 2016/059 Adrian John Dalton, where a Transport Manager works with another, the individual named as Transport Manager on the licence may delegate tasks but they must ensure that the delegated tasks are carried out properly as the responsibility remains with them.
Transport Managers will be required to effectively manage drivers by regularly monitoring driver hours and vehicle unit data and taking robust action against any infringements identified. A traffic commissioner will not be lenient on a Transport Manager who is passive in their role.
It is important to note that the operator plays a role in ensuring that the right individual is appointed to this role as was set out in the case of 2014/050 Andrew Harris trading as Harris of Leicester and reiterated in the updated Statutory Document 3; this individual must have the ‘character, personality, ability and leadership qualities to ensure compliant operation’.
A traffic commissioner will take the view that it is not sufficient to simply appoint an individual to the post of Transport Manger, the operator must also take an active role through monitoring and review to ensure that this individual is carrying out the role in such a way so as to ensure the operator satisfies the requirements of its licence.
The Transport Manager has an important role to play within an organisation and the individual in this position must undertake their duties effectively and in a proactive manner. It is recommended that all Transport Managers familiarise themselves with the new guidance issued by the Senior Traffic Commissioner to ensure that they are aware of the expectations upon them and the standard that they will be assessed against.
It is envisaged that now that the expectations in respect of Transport Managers have been made clear by the Senior Traffic Commissioner, future tribunals will not be sympathetic towards any Transport Manager who has failed to undertake the basic elements of their role effectively.