Swedish haulers pay high fees for drivers' mistakes

By: Thomas Ström 3/13/19

Last week I wrote about the Swedish Transport Agency's raising of the sanction fees against Swedish haulers.
Last year on March 1st, they raised the maximum penalty from 200 000 SEK or 10 percent of the company's turnover to 800 000 SEK or 1 percent of turnover during the two-month period that the Swedish Transport Agency controls in connection with corporate control.
Here I give a few examples of what the Swedish Transport Agency is cracking down on during such a control and how much money it means for the haulers in fees.

The background is that the EU has established which rules apply in all member states, but each country decides how much the charges are and who has to pay – the driver or the hauler. And that varies greatly. In Poland, for example, it’s the driver who has made the mistake and takes the large cost while in Spain, it’s the opposite. There, the driver does not pay anything.

In Sweden, the driver is scrutinized 28 days back in time and receives a maximum of
10 000 SEK for the errors he / she has made.
However, when it comes to the faulty driver’s Swedish hauler, the Swedish Transport Agency can check and review faults in the travel computer 12 months back in time. The slightest deviation is registered and results in a fee.

What the Swedish Transport Agency focuses on in the travel computer during a company control is for example:

  • The driver has driven 1-30 minutes too long before taking a valid break or rest after 4 ½ hours of driving, which gives a penalty of 1 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver has driven without inserting his driver card in the tachograph: 8 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver holds or uses one or more driver cards: 4 000 SEK per occasion.
  • The driver has not specified start or end country in the tachograph: 500 SEK per occasion.

Here are some examples of how the Swedish Transport Agency fines the haulers afterwards.

  1. A driver has planned to stay in a specific rest area after 4 hours and 20 minutes. Once there, it turns out that the rest area is full and the driver is forced to move to the next rest area. Obviously, he can't stay on the highway. If the time to the next rest area takes longer than 10 minutes, he will be fined. 1-30 minutes means 1 000 SEK and over 31-1,5 hours means 2 000 SEK and anything beyond that means
    4 000 SEK.
  2. A driver who has to rest for 11 hours (how many adults can sleep for that long?) leaves six minutes early. Thus, the break in the tachograph shows 10,54 hours. This results in a fee of 1 000 SEK. A break of less than 8,5 hours means 4 000 SEK.
  3. During the weekend, the vehicles often need to be washed and maintained. At this point, the driver must drive about 50 meters in his own hauler’s parking lot, where there is often a separate wash station. This little drive then "ruins" the 45 hours long weekend break and, just like that, the hauler receives a 4 000 SEK fee. If a vehicle is driven without a driver card, the hauler might have to pay 4 000 SEK.

In other words, we are talking about minor offenses, which in some cases are also hard to avoid. So far, Swedish haulers have calculated a certain amount of sanction fees, sometimes up to 200 000 SEK over a two-month period.
But now, they should allow for 800 000 SEK or one percent of turnover instead.
This is in a low-margin industry, where several haulages are struggling to even reach breakeven.
Who has the energy to run a business under such conditions?

Fines imposed by the Swedish Transport Agency could devastate the Swedish haulage industry

By: Thomas Ström 3/1/19

On 1 March last year, the Swedish Transport Agency introduced new fines in the haulage industry.
As a result, many Swedish hauliers could face such high fines that they risk bankruptcy.
Of course regulations are necessary, but within reason.

In Sweden, there is a requirement to carry out checks on three percent of the days worked by drivers who are covered by the rules on driving and resting times. The Swedish Transport Agency and the Swedish Police Authority share the responsibility for carrying out these checks. This means that company checks are performed on half of the days and road checks are performed on the other half.

The EU has established the regulations that apply in all EU countries, but each member state decides the size of the fines and whether the driver or the haulier is liable to pay. The rules vary considerably between countries. For instance, in Poland the driver is charged a heavy fine for infringements. In Spain, on the other hand, the haulier is liable while the driver pays nothing.

In Sweden the driver is only checked for 28 days back in time and is subject to a maximum fine of SEK 10,000.
However, the Swedish Transport Agency can check the Swedish haulier that employs the offending driver for up to 12 months back in time and inspect the on-board computer for irregularities. Even minor infractions are registered and subject to fines.

So far, the maximum fine in Sweden has been SEK 200,000 or 10 percent of the haulier’s sales during the two-month period examined by the Swedish Transport Agency.
But as of March, the two-month ceiling will be raised to SEK 800,000 or 1 percent of sales.
This will wreak havoc in the Swedish haulage industry, which is already up against a severe shortage of drivers and low margins. 

Today all trucks and tractor units are equipped with digital tachographs, from which all manner of information can be retrieved. This, combined with the fact that each driver is required to insert a private driver card into the tachograph, allows the Swedish Transport Agency to retroactively monitor all the driver’s actions and vehicle use. 

Of course haulage companies should monitor their drivers’ actions and ensure they follow the rules, but because of the shortage of professional drivers in Europe, it is hard to protect hauliers from foul play. Many professional drivers work for less than a year with the same haulier, making it impossible to punish the driver retroactively. Instead, the haulier must bear the whole cost. The Swedish Transport Agency firmly maintains that hauliers are responsible for ensuring that their drivers know the rules and use the tachograph correctly.

Obviously I agree with this, but there needs to be some rhyme and reason.

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