Further temporary relaxation of EU driving and resting time rules

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The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have agreed a further extension of the temporary derogation from certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules.

This extension includes additional measures, which will apply from 17 April to 31 May 2020. The derogation will apply to all operators and drivers subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of all goods (including oil supplies etc.) and will continue to be reviewed by the RSA during this time. Details of the derogation are outlined further, below.

The prolongation of this temporary derogation is being made in view of the potential ongoing impact of the COVID-19 crisis on HGV operations; the importance of ensuring continuity of supply chains; and in response to requests from the haulage industry.

Commenting on the announcement, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Shane Ross said, “This prolongation of the temporary derogation from the EU driving time and resting time rules due to the COVID-19 public health crisis follows detailed engagement by my Department and the RSA with representatives from Ireland’s road haulage industry and engagement with the European Commission. I wish to again acknowledge the contribution and work of the road haulage sector at this time in striving to ensure the continued movement of foods, medicines and other essential goods to, from, and within Ireland. I hope that this prolonged derogation will assist the sector, and I have asked that the operation of the derogation continues to be reviewed. I would again reiterate that driver safety and other road users’ safety must not be compromised.”

Coming into effect: Given that the current temporary derogation put in place on 18 March expires at midnight on 16 April, this prolongation will come into immediate effect from 17 April 2020 up to 31 May 2020 and will be reviewed by the RSA every week as regards its application and scope. The additional measures being introduced include the following;

  • Opportunity to avail of extra reduced daily rest periods
  • Opportunity to take a regular weekly rest period in the cabin

Description of derogation:

Fortnightly driving time: The temporary relaxation from the driving time rules will continue by lifting the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 112 hours. Because of this approach, drivers will be entitled to drive a maximum 56 hours in each consecutive week until further notice (there is no change to the rules relating to working time).

Extra reduced daily rest periods: The rules in relation to daily rest periods are also being relaxed whereby the maximum of three reduced daily rest periods (between any two weekly rest periods) is being increased to five. This will facilitate drivers in scenarios where there is a backlog or delay at either the ports or distribution centres, which might cause drivers to exceed their daily spread (of 13 hours when required) and thereby breaching the rules regarding daily rest. It will not result in any extra driving time being afforded to drivers but will merely facilitate any potential delays experienced at the loading/unloading points and allay the fear of drivers and operators of being exposed to a risk of sanctions thereafter. It is important to note that whilst the drivers will have the opportunity to avail of five reduced daily rest periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period the obligation to adhere to the daily spread must continue to be complied with in instances where the daily rest period is being extended to make a weekly rest period.

Weekly rest requirements:

Operators and drivers should specifically note that under this derogation, drivers must take at least one (1) regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in any two consecutive weeks. There is no requirement for compensation in respect of reduced weekly rest periods up to end May 2020.

Regular weekly rest in the cabin:

As part of the relaxation of the rules, drivers will now be able to take a regular weekly period in the cabin of the truck as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities and the vehicle is stationary.

There is no change to the rules relating to working time.

The RSA and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will keep this derogation under review and will consider making any further changes as necessary in consultation with stakeholders. The European Commission has been notified of this prolongation and all other EU Member States and the UK will be notified of such.

Operator obligations

The RSA wishes to emphasise that HGV operators are required to mitigate the risks of disruption to transport operations and to plan accordingly and ensure compliance with the EU rules.

Appropriate arrangements must be put in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or digital tachograph print-outs (as soon as they finish their daily working period) the reasons and justification why they are exceeding the prescribed limits. Where there is a failure to do so, this will cause delays and issues at inspections. The practical implementation of this temporary relaxation of the rules should be agreed by employers with their drivers.

HGV operators must put in place contingency measures to cater for emergency and urgent situations and this must be properly documented and retained for inspection. Documentary evidence in support of the reason for taking extra driving should be retained for at least 12 months. Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort. During inspections, the history of the driver and operator overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed.

While the current situation may impact on driving time, driver safety or other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not deviate from the rules if it jeopardises road safety nor should they be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

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