Around 10,000 hauliers feature on a ‘red list’ drawn up by lorry safety body the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to identify risks to Britain’s road users, a BBC report has revealed. 

The agency operates a traffic light rating system for the likely safety of haulage operators and maintains a list featuring haulage companies not keeping pace with safety and maintenance requirements. 

In a special BBC Radio 4 report, it said current sanctions were insufficient and needed review. 

At present, firms with vehicles weighing at least 3.5 tonnes need an operator licence, which requires the lorries to be roadworthy, checked regularly and driven responsibly. 

HGV drivers, for example, are required to carry out regular walk around checks of their vehicle and maintain a record of their driving hours, while employers are expected to monitor these records and keep them for at least two years - ensuring their drivers’ working hours remain within legal limits. These limits vary according to the driver’s age and how regularly they work. 

The DVSA carries out roadside spot checks to enforce the rules. Of 29,000 HGVs it checked in 2015/16, 9,000 received prohibition notices, which require drivers or their companies to stop the dangerous activity or comply with regulations. 

At present, the DVSA only takes formal action against persistent or serious offenders, with rule breakers usually receiving either a prohibition notice or an improvement notice, which sets out changes that need to be made by a certain date. Vehicles in need of repair may be immobilised until repaired, or its owners receive a deadline for fixing the problem. 

Those hauliers found to repeatedly break their licence rules are referred to traffic commissioners who have the power to suspend or revoke a licence and prevent company directors applying for a new one. 

Christalla Christodoulidou, a serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Having dealt with many victims of serious road traffic accidents, we are acutely aware of how vulnerable other road users are to HGVs. In the wrong hands, they become dangerous weapons. They need to be maintained meticulously and driven with caution. 

“The fact that there are currently 10,000 haulage operators in the UK identified as a potential risk to other road users is hugely worrying. When the authority tasked with enforcing the rules says sanctions for those repeatedly flouting them are inadequate, we have to stop, take note and make changes. Lives are at risk. While there are many great HGV operators who appreciate the value of ensuring drivers are well rested and that their vehicles are maintained, a small minority continue to make a mockery of the system and that cannot be allowed to continue.”