Driving abroad: RAC's tips for driving in Europe
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From February 13, penalties are increasing for drivers who are found to be carrying a “clandestine migrant”, while a new penalty will be introduced for failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle. The maximum penalty per migrant could be as high as £20,000, with the new reforms being part of the UK Government’s continued fight against illegal migration.
For members who are advised that their vehicle is being taken abroad, it is important to make sure that it can be evidenced that at the start of the hire all locks and security features were working.
This will support the member’s defence if their vehicle is caught with a clandestine migrant, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.
Members could be held jointly liable for penalties if the security features were found to not be working when the vehicle was handed over.
In addition, members may wish to consider reminding those customers renting vans or camper vans for travel abroad of the risks.
Drivers should be offered guidance on vehicle security and reminded of their responsibility in ensuring that access points on the vehicle are locked and checked prior to arrival at the port.
The UK Border Force issued guidance via the GOV.UK website urging drivers to “secure, check, record”.
Drivers must secure a vehicle when it’s first loaded, especially soft sided vehicles with a tilt cord.
They should be secured, with the cord passing tightly through all eyelets and winders.
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Motorists should secure the ends of the tilt cord with either a uniquely numbered seal or lock and record the seal number on the checklist.
If the inside of the vehicle is checked during the journey, the driver must reapply the lock, tilt cord or other security device and/or apply a new seal.
Drivers should also have spare seals to reseal the vehicle after each check.
The guidance continues: “Drivers must check a vehicle when it’s first loaded for any signs of unauthorised access.
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“After each stop drivers must check the vehicle to ensure no unauthorised persons have entered the load.
“Check any seals, locks, tilt cords or other security devices for signs of damage or tampering before and during the journey.
“Check the sides and roof of the vehicle and check all external compartments.”
After these checks, drivers must then enter and register all checks throughout the journey, recording the date, time and location.
Vehicle owners must provide drivers with means of record keeping such as checklists and written instructions before the start of every journey.
The Border Force is also launching the UK Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme.
This scheme will be targeted at hauliers who consistently comply with and maintain high levels of vehicle security.
Membership of the scheme can significantly reduce a penalty, which can be as much as £20,000 per instance.
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