A Westmeath company has been fined €15,000 for breaches of road safety legislation, including an offence which saw one driver on the road for more than 13 hours.
Judge David Anderson did not accept that TLT International, a livestock haulage company at Kilmaglish, Knockdrin, could not have put a second driver in their trucks if they were concerned that animals tbeing transported were delivered as soon as possible.
At Mullingar District Court the company pleaded guilty to exceeding the daily driving time, failing to ensure that the equivalent of the tachograph was fitted to vehicles and failing to ensure that drivers had their required rest.
An officer from the Road Safety Authority said they called to TLT International on March 3 and returned on May 5 2008 to interview Paolo Garavelli who was very cooperative and gave the authority access to his records.
There were a large number of offences regarding different drivers, the inspector told the court, but they were proceeding with only 25.
Daily rest should be no less than 11 hours and in exceptional cases, no less than nine hours. However one driver had only three hours and 35 minutes rest.
The court heard that for more than six years the driver of one vehicle had no card installed, the equivalent of a tachograph the data from which can be downloaded.
While drivers are only allowed to drive for nine hours a day and may work for 10 hours on two days a week, one driver was on the road for 13 hours and 13 minutes.
A solicitor for Garavelli and his company said they admitted they hadn’t been paying full attention to their drivers because they were more concerned for animal welfare.
There are EU regulations which limit the number of hours cattle can be on the road as part of live export legislation and so Garavelli had “no option but to have drivers exceed their limits”.
The inspector pointed out that a second driver could have been used and the company’s solicitor said this measure has since been put in place.
However, he was not able to say why that couldn’t have been done in the past and said Garavelli, who is in Italy and not hiding from his responsibilities, was trying to balance welfare between the animals and his drivers.
The maximum fine in each offence is €5,000 and Judge Anderson, who had three sets of summonses, imposed the maximum fine in the first case in each set, totalling €15,000.
The company has three months to pay.