A BRADFORD haulier who falsified records to illegally drive his HGV for longer has been jailed.

James Bentley, 49, of Pullan Street, Bradford, was a HGV driver for Apollo Beds at the time he was pulled over last year and his tachograph records checked.

The rules are designed to prevent tiredness at the wheel for drivers of commercial heavy goods vehicles, and involve a maximum of 4.5 hours of driving before a break must be taken.

By not following the regulations, Recorder Alex Menary warned Bentley that the effect could be to turn the HGV into a “lethal weapon”.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Bentley admitted five counts of knowingly making a false record which he knew to be false.

He was jailed for six months in total, and is now likely to face a conduct hearing before the traffic commissioner, where his HGV licence could be suspended or revoked.

Prosecutor Olivia Maginn, on behalf of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, told the court that Bentley was pulled over on May 6, 2021, driving an Apollo Beds HGV and inconsistencies were discovered with the data on the digital tachograph in the vehicle.

She said that there were five instances, between February 1 and March 10, when the data showed Bentley had either inserted two separate driver cards into the digital tachograph, or had driven without a card – in order to circumvent the rules around driving for no more than 4.5 hours without a break.

She outlined how in interview he initially denied having two cards, and said he lost one and received a replacement. He also said one of his cards had been faulty.

He told investigators he religiously stuck to the rules around hours he could drive, but occasionally went slightly over the 4.5 hours if he had trouble finding somewhere to park up.

Investigators then looked at automatic number plate recognition data.

At a later interview he admitted having two cards at one time, but said it must have been a mistake that he used them both on the same day.

Ms Maginn said that while Bentley said he felt pressure to meet targets set by the company he was working for, he later accepted responsibility for the matter.

She added that Apollo Beds, a Batley firm, has not been prosecuted over the matter, although they were due to be called before the traffic commissioner as part of a public inquiry.

The judge jailed Bentley, saying that the regulations were in place to protect road users, pedestrians and drivers themselves from tiredness at the wheel.

He added that the offences were so serious only an immediate jail term was suitable – and that this would send a deterrent to others.

A DVSA spokesperson said: "Tired drivers are dangerous drivers.

"Drivers’ hours rules are in place to help keep drivers and other road users safe.

“We will take action against those who choose to deliberately evade the processes and safety tools that help keep Britain’s road safe.”

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