Goods Vehicles Bill key to improving Freight and Transport safety record
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the introduction of a Goods Vehicles Licensing Bill will help address the fact that Ireland, north and south, has some of the worst safety records for freight and transport in Europe and will be key to improving the industry's reputation.
Speaking in the Assembly Mr McKay said:
"This legislation is long overdue & will help to improve the reputation of the Irish freight and transport industry along with similar legislation being forwarded in the 26 Counties. We do have some of the worst safety records in the Europe and rank at the bottom of the EU countries league table. I welcome the fact that this legislation is at last being introduced and it again shows the ineffectiveness of Direct Rule Ministers who did nothing about this situation for so many years.
"The Bill will require Own account operators, who make up around ¾ of the industry to be licensed. Enforcement here is not strong enough and the absence of full Operator licensing means that vehicle owners and drivers do not pay enough attention to the roadworthiness of their vehicles on a daily basis.
"Indeed, DOE carry out commercial vehicle enforcement checks annually and the latest figures show that 40% of vehicles checked last year were found 'unroadworthy'. So the road safety implications of this situation are stark and need addressed urgently.
"We do have some concern around the definition of an Operating Centre and the impact that this will have on operators who do not have a specified area to store or place their vehicle. Many operators, particularly those who drive the smaller vehicles covered by this legislation, park on the street in our villages and towns. I think it would be important to identify what the possible adverse impact on these vehicle owners will be as a result of this legislation before any adoption.
"An Intertrade Ireland Freight Transport report released in March advocated a joint approach to the licensing of commercial vehicles and enforcement of vehicle standards. The existence on the island of different regulations creates many difficulties for companies operating across the island of Ireland and this is something that those in the industry would like to see addressed.
"Sinn Féin broadly welcomes the measures that are to be introduced in the Bill. It will undoubtedly make our roads significantly safer with its introduction and improve the image of our freight and transport industry." ENDS