Donegal judge speaks of the dangers of fatigued lorry drivers

A Donegal judge yesterday spoke of the dangers of heavy goods vehicles driven by fatigued workers.

Judge Denis McLoughlin said it was a very serious offence people driving very large vehicles on a public road without the required rest period.

Road Safety Authority officer Seamus Lynch told Dungloe District Court how tachograph records spanning four weeks showed that rest regulations were broken a number of times by the driver of one long rigid vehicle owned by Thomas Hanrahan and Sons.

Mr Lynch said that the worst offence showed the driver, based at Brinaleck, Derrybeg, was more than 10 hours short of the required rest period within the State in one week in October 2009.

He told the court: “Fatigue is seen to be a fairly big contributing factor in road deaths.”

He added that breach of the law gave perpetrators “unfair advantage” over law-abiding competitors.

Defence solicitor Denis O’Mahony acknowledged that there was no excuse for the offence of causing a driver not to take his regular rest period.

He said the work schedule was organised in such a way that the driver was unable to comply fully with the required weekly rest period.

Judge McLoughlin imposed a €2,500 fine – half the permitted maximum of €5,000 – and also ordered payment of €185 prosecution costs for the offence admitted by lorry owners Thomas Hanrahan and Sons of Raheen, Co. Limerick.

A charge against the driver, John Friel, was struck out.