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?