IRHA: Limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU Drivers’ Hours rules in Northern Ireland

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The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) reports on Drivers’ Hours relaxation in Northern Ireland plus information from Germany. Also featured are detalis of on the International Road Transport Union (IRU) website which has updates on from all European countries and beyond. 

In response to unprecedented pressures on local and national supply chains, the British Department for Infrastructure has introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU Drivers’ Hours rules in Northern Ireland. It has also introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of NI drivers’ hours rules in Northern Ireland. This relaxation began on 23 March 2020 and was due to end on 21 April 2020.

A specific review of the continuation of the relaxations past 21 April 2020 has been conducted and on the basis of the current evidence, a decision has been made to continue with the relaxations (apart from the relaxation on break requirements) until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.

The Department will keep these temporary arrangements under review and the relaxation may be amended or brought to an end earlier if circumstances change.

The Department would like to remind all transport operators and the customers who influence their practices that:

  • The standard drivers’ hours rules are important safety-related rules. They are in place to improve road safety and the working conditions of drivers, and reduce the risk of drivers being involved in fatigue-related accidents.
  • Therefore, these temporary relaxations should only be used where absolutely necessary. Operators should, wherever possible, attempt to recruit additional drivers from other sectors who are out of work or facing being furloughed.
  • The temporary relaxations are designed to support the transport of vital goods, including the supply chains related to medicines, health, fuel, food and other necessities.

The current situation is being kept under review and the relaxation may be amended or withdrawn earlier than 31 May 2020 if circumstances change. Operators should use this period to increase resilience.

If any drivers or operators consider that they are being asked to use the relaxation without correct justification then they can email their concerns to drivershours@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

Retrospective checking of the use of these relaxations will take place as necessary, including by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

Please note that the previous relaxation of the European Union Drivers’ Hours rules on breaks (i.e. the requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving) was applicable from 23 March 2020 until 21 April 2020 only.

Those wishing to use this relaxation should read the full notice here and must follow its requirements.

A consolidated overview of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak situation is available on IRU Flash Info webpage.