Fines for road safety violations
An Inland Revenue Agency circular included instructions for the application of fines for the irregular road transport of goods for third parties and for road safety violations. One year of exclusion from tax, financial and insurance benefits for anyone who infringes the regulations
"Road safety" - secretary general Pasquale Russo emphasized - "is not a bargaining point: insisting that there is nothing wrong with a market that pays something like 47 euros for a stretch such as the Turin-Asti, is irresponsible to say the least. Contractors persist in passing off the idea that minimum costs are in effect forced tariffs: nothing could be further from the truth."
Now they are in black and white. The instructions for the application of fines for the irregular road transport of goods on behalf of third parties and road safety violations: one year of exclusion from tax, financial and insurance benefits for anyone who infringes the regulations. Established by the now "famous" article 83-bis of Leg. Dec. Dl 112 of 2008, the fines and their method of application were fully explained in the Inland Revenue Agency circular of 6 July 2011.
The circular explained that the fines refer to the non-observance of the standards that govern the road transport of goods on behalf of third parties. Although the standard generally refers to tax benefits, the Agency stated that only those benefits regarding activities specified in article 83-bis of the Decree will be subject to exclusion. The other benefits for individuals, such as those linked to the "first home", are not included. INCLUDEPICTURE "http://adv.ilsole24ore.it/5/www.ilsole24ore.it/10/_03_060_/_norme_tributi_/_fisco/1774469074/VideoBox_180x150/OasDefault/Autopromo_SGR_180x150_invenduto/square_INVENDUTO_Sole.html/35373134376263643465313438366630?_RM_EMPTY_" \* MERGEFORMATINET
The Ministerial document states the rules for the application of the fines and provides all the information that must be included in the notification of the relevant party, including the possibility of appeal. How tax benefits are stopped: specifically, the circular clarifies that data on road safety violations and the irregular transport of goods on behalf of third parties are collected by the office of road and intermodal transport at the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport. A preliminary action that will allow the regional and provincial offices of the Inland Revenue Agencies in Trento and Bolzano to justify the application of fines and prevent offenders from enjoying tax benefits for one year. An appeal against the fines can be lodged with the relevant regional Courts within sixty days from the date of the notification.
In this context, Unatras - the Italian Union of Road Hauliers' Associations - confirms the legal right to apply the minimum costs established by the Ministry of Transport on 13 June also to road transport contracts in writing. "Road safety" - secretary general Pasquale Russo emphasized - "is not a bargaining point: insisting that there is nothing wrong with a market that pays something like 47 euros for a stretch such as the Turin-Asti, is irresponsible to say the least. Contractors persist in passing off the idea that minimum costs are in effect forced tariffs: nothing could be further from the truth. The freedom to negotiate is not under discussion, but it must be combined with respect for the other founding principles of our regulations".
According to Russo "article 83-bis of Law 133, which enforces the application of minimum costs also in written transport contracts, is definitely not a step backwards, as the president of Confindustria maintains. On the contrary, it is a huge step forward for the country, it is a principle of civilisation, and the Government is demonstrating to the general public that values like road and social safety must be protected".
"Legality, safety and market are the three pillars that must support road transport today and tomorrow. If we remove even one of them, everything will collapse, with irreparable damage for companies and citizens. Italian road transport must be remunerated for the levels of services it provides for the economy itself: they accuse us of inefficiency, but the real problem is intermediation within the sector and a serious lack of infrastructures of which we are the first victims and which have a chain reaction all the way to the final consumer".
In closing, the secretary general said that "the application of the Ministry's minimum costs also to written contracts will represent just 20% of total revenues from goods transport: an increase that has an infinitesimal effect on the real economy with respect to the recovery of very wide safety margins for all road users".
• The Eurovignette Directive penalizes road hauliers
The standard approved in Strasburg is piratical: it gives Member States the right to decide whether or not to use income to reduce the impact of so-called "external costs" like pollution, noise, and congestion by investing in road transport: "The Eurovignette Directive gives no guarantee that road haulage will be cleaner: Member States can do what they want with the income from tolls", was the bitter comment by the chairman of Confartigianato Trasporti, Francesco Del Boca.
Even for infrastructures, the States are simply "encouraged" to reinvest 15% of the income: "somewhat low compared to the much acclaimed objectives of environmental sustainability". Neither are there any mandatory provisions regarding safe stopping places, essential for guaranteeing the observance of road transport social regulations, road safety or unfair competition. However, Del Boca expressed his appreciation for the approval of the measure that allows States to exempt vehicles of up to 12 tonnes from the heftier tolls: "A relief for our companies that use small and medium-sized vehicles, which would have been squashed otherwise. Considering the extent and complexity of the dossier and the very strong pressure at top institutional and lobbying levels of the past three years, it is not an unimportant result" Del Boca continued.
But the fact that only road hauliers are included in the new system of taxation and not other road users is considered "discriminatory". The trading of goods between States and price levels will also be influenced to the detriment of citizens and consumers.
"We have already made it clear in Brussels that from now on we will be paying a lot of attention to how the States use this money, given that solemn declarations have been made - which don't cost anything - about future investments in the environment", he added. Moreover, the European Commission also stated that the future electronic toll system will issue a receipt showing the amount charged for "external costs", thereby allowing hauliers to charge the sum to their contractors.
This is very interesting given the regulations about minimum costs in Italy: if we decide to implement the Directive in the future, it is an element that must be taken into consideration" Del Boca concluded.
• Spot checks of tachographs
The Ministry of the Interior has given the controlling authorities certain important indications as to how to assess spot checks of tachographs. The circular attempts to interpret certain events that are part of the driver's activities and which are not voluntary violations of driving and resting times. The text is divided into three subjects, about which the Ministry has received requests for clarification from members of the police force and which represent "Road Traffic Police orientation" during spot checks of industrial vehicles. The first subject refers to the obligation to record the daily rest period when the driver leaves the vehicle.
In the first chapter, the circular points out that "the daily rest periods are recorded or inserted manually under the bed symbol, even when the driver leaves the vehicle and takes the record sheet or the tachograph chart with him". Non observance "is a violation of art. 19 of Law 727 of 13 November 1978, or art. 174 of the Highway Code, only if the non observance of the relevant daily period of rest is ascertained by a different method or by means of other probative elements".
The second chapter concerns moving the vehicle when driving has been interrupted or during the daily rest period when the same is imposed by the police or another authority, for example if the truck is blocking circulation in a service area. In this case, the circular establishes that interrupting the rest period is not an infraction and is also covered by a Community provision. However, the driver must write the reason for the interruption on the disc or chronodigital chart. The annotation should be certified by the authority that ordered the vehicle to be moved or, in any case, the relevant identification data should be noted. However, the same circular points out that "the orientation note from the Community will take into consideration the interruption of a break or rest period of only a few minutes and it must be justified by an extraordinary and exceptional event and not, on the contrary, to establish an illegal practice aimed at limiting the rest periods that are obligatory under the terms of Community regulations".
The third chapter discusses permissible tolerances for digital tachographs and refers, also in this case, to the European Commission provision. The clarification concerns frequent stops or repeated loading and unloading operations and can be seen as the application of the "minute regulation" also for tachographs that are not calibrated for this innovation. In practice, the text recommends a tolerance for drivers who make frequent stops or repeated loading and unloading operations and are equipped with digital tachographs: "It can be applied by subtracting one minute for each period of continuous driving after a stop up to a maximum of 15 minutes in every four-and-a-half-hour driving period". However, the circular warns that this tolerance is valid only for driving times and does not apply to interruptions or daily rest periods.