Extension of period for relaxation of the EU driving and resting time rules during the current inclement weather

In light of the continuing inclement weather the temporary and limited relaxation of the EU driver’s hours rules is being extended until 7 March in respect of vehicles being used for the distribution of the following:

· gritting, sand and stone chipping material to be used for gritting roads; and
· fuel oil, petroleum related products and domestic heating products.

The temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of the driver hours rules is extended to cover the period 28 February 2018 and 7 March 2018.

The rules are being relaxed as follows:-

· replacement of the driving time limit of 9 hours with 11 hours
· reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours; and
· lifting the weekly and fortnightly driving limit; and
· relaxation of the rules relating to working time.

The requirement to take breaks after 4½ hours driving remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced.

The EU drivers’ hours rules do not apply to vehicles used in emergencies or rescue operations and this includes those drivers engaged in the gritting of the roads. Operators and drivers engaged in this activity must ensure that the drivers concerned get adequate rest and breaks while working on those activities.

As regards other road haulage operations, the Road Safety Authority will adopt a pragmatic approach when reviewing drivers hours compliance with driving and resting time periods during the course of roadside inspection and at premises inspections in respect of driving and resting periods during the inclement weather period. During inspections, the history of the driver’s and operator overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed.

Appropriate arrangements must be in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers resulting from the current inclement weather including the particular circumstances. Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or print-outs the reasons why they are exceeding the prescribed limits.

Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort. 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. This should be agreed by operators and their drivers.

While the adverse weather conditions may impact on driving time, driver safety or other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.