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

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EU Member States should give priority to freight traffic
The instrument panel in the new MAN TG series is oriented towards the driver. Die Armaturentafel in der neuen MAN TG-Baureihe ist zum Fahrer hin orientiert.

EU Member States should give priority to freight traffic

Border control delays somewhat relieved

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.

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.

As the crisis continues, the EC stipulates that EU Member States should give priority to freight traffic, ensure safe working conditions for transport workers and that no additional certification should be needed for goods legally circulating within the EU single market.

The European Federation of Wooden Pallet & Packaging Manufacturers (Fédération Européenee des Fabricants de Palettes and Emballages en Bois – FEFPEB) is calling on governments across Europe to help ensure wooden packaging and pallets remain freely available throughout this crisis, to ensure that fast moving consumer goods (fmcg) and pharmaceutical supply chains are able to operate in a smooth and timely manner.

The government of each country has its own set of regulations for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis; members and related business are adhering to these. However, it stresses that they must support manufacturers of wooden pallets and packaging, and reconditioned pallet companies; pallet pools; sawmillers; and the logistics industry in general.

The EC has issued a set of guidelines on protecting health and keeping goods moving. These are available on its website at https://ec.europa.eu/.

Thanks to our European colleagues for the continuous supply of road transport updated information:

AUSTRIA

Driving Times and Sunday driving restrictions are loosened for the time being. Transport is working more or less normal. Keeping the supply chain for food and other essential goods etc running is one of the primary goals. All borders are still open for transports. Actual waiting time for trucks only to Hungary approx 3 hours. The rest are ok at the moment.

Here you find the waiting times at all hungarian boarders:

http://www.police.hu/en/content/foreign-citizens-cannot-enter-hungary

Manufacturers shut down their sales departments. On the road service and assistance is available within all truck brands.

CZECH REP

In state of emergency. All borders with neighbouring states closed – German, Austrian borders closed the Czech Republic, with the Polish and Slovak borders closed by their own authorities. The movement of goods is not restricted; all vehicles declared as utility and freight cross the border travel from category N1 upwards. On the Czech-Polish and Czech-Slovak borders there are huge columns of spells reaching 30 km to 40 km. The reason is the border administration by the Polish and Slovak border controls. Drapes, resistors and other protective equipment that truck drivers and their operators or customers require are also a problem. Trade with them is blooming, prices climb to incredible heights. At night, the Czech government took advantage of the state of emergency and confiscated 10,000 protective equipment to companies that wanted to sell it for up to 60 times the normal price.

The Czech Republic is building an air bridge with China to import protective equipment. It has paid tens of millions and sends a fleet of Smart Wings aircraft for them. “We are still holding on to a reasonable wave of spreading the disease, we have something over what we are infected, three healed and so far zero dead. Some towns such as Litovel, Unicov and about twenty villages are in total closure, quarantine. Other measures will follow. Car manufacturers close – Skoda Auto, Hyundai in Nošovice. Interruption of work for 14 days. We expect a huge impact on the economy.”

GERMANY

The German Ministry of Transport allows drivers to keep on driving even if their further professional driving time has expired. They say: Any driver, who is capable of driving at the moment, can continue this job, even if that means, he or she is currently not working according to all aspects of 2003/59/EC. Also, the Ministry is currently evaluating, if it will become necessary to make driving hours more flexible – driving around the clock? Further, the Ministry might open up the German market for relatively unrestricted cabotage. And also there might be “carpool-lanes” for food-trucks at the borders. All this is about to be decided during the day.

ITALY

‘Home delivery’ for truck drivers on the road

One of the main problems truck drivers have to solve today in Italy – how to get a meal after highway restaurant closure scheduled by Italian authorities at 6.00 pm – seemed to find a solution. Some restaurants accept orders by phone or email. Drivers can find a suitable parking lot for their trucks near a restaurant. They will get the meal as a special ‘home delivery’. The number of these ‘home delivery’ restaurants is increasing at a very fast pace.

NETHERLANDS

The strain on the food supply chain is getting enormous. People are still hoarding so supermarkets are having Christmas like turnovers but workloads as well. Truck drivers from other segments who are now without a job are asked or are offering to join the food supply chain. Some people in the sector are calling out to cancel regulations for curfew times and low emission zones to ensure proper logistics. Minister of Transport will look at skipping driving times, was in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss this and other topics with European transport ministers. DAF will stop production lines from 23 March in Eindhoven. Scania will do the same in all Europe, so also in Zwolle and Meppel from March 25th. Transport and Logistics in general is still possible. No problems at the borders here for goods transport.

From Thursday March 19th 1800hrs Dutch borders are closed for all non-EU residents. Exceptions are made for several jobs, medical personnel and of course truck drivers. The government document mentions ‘personnel working in the transport of goods, if necessary’. What ‘necessary’ exactly means, is not specified though…

NORWAY

Borders are closed for all non-residents except for transport. Some ferries are operating but only for people going home after visited Norway or Norwegians coming back and of course, trucks. Today Government announced that all transport is exempt from drivers hours rules. They only have to stop for 45 min brakes and have the minimum of 9 hrs rest.
The situation for the drivers is reported getting a little better since some of the closed toilets and showers have been opened again. The health department has ordered that all these places along the roads are mandatory to keep open.
If your driver’s licence is expiring you will have 6 months extension automatically (this at least applies in Norway)

“At the moment a big shipment of protective ware is stopped at the border due to EUs non export rule. I guess Norway won’t be a part of the European economic union in the future if this continues. Norway has no production of this kind of equipment and is in a crisis with lack of everything at the moment.” 

POLAND

Poland also changed driving time rules for a period up to April 19th. Truck drivers may drive 11 hours per day or 60 per week. No penalties for longer driving at that time.

Long queues on German borders has been improved because authorities decided to cease obligation to fulfil many documents by truck drivers and now traffic flow is much faster.