Temporary relaxation of EU driving and resting time rules due to COVID-19

18 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have agreed to allow a temporary and urgent derogation in respect of certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules. The proposed derogation will apply to all operators and drivers subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of goods (including oil supplies etc).

The move is being made because of the potential impact of the Coronavirus on HGV operations and the importance of the road haulage sector to the national economy and in response to requests from the haulage industry.

Commenting on the announcement Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Mr. Shane Ross said, “We have granted a temporary relaxation of the EU driving time and resting time rules due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, recognising the importance of the haulage industry to the economy and in response to requests from the industry itself. Critically we are striking a balance between driver welfare, operator flexibility, road safety and minimising disruption to supply chains. I have also requested that these arrangements be kept under continual review. I want to thank our hauliers for their support and hard work in this difficult time. With their help we will keep our chains of supply for food and essential goods moving.”

Coming into effect

The derogation comes into immediate effect from 18 March 2020 up to 16 April 2020 which will be reviewed every week as regards application and scope.

Description of proposed derogation: The driving time rules are being relaxed 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).

The rules relating to weekly rest are also being relaxed by allowing drivers to take a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours in each consecutive week during the relaxation period. There will be no obligation on a driver to take at least one (1) regular weekly rest period in any two consecutive weeks until further notice. Furthermore, there shall not be any requirement for compensation where reduced weekly rest is being taken.

As outlined above, there is no change to the rules relating to working time.

The RSA will keep this under review and will consider making any further changes as necessary in consultation with stakeholders.

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 rules.

Appropriate arrangements must be put in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers resulting from the Coronavirus 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 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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