Wednesday 13 December 2017

In-cab rest clampdown ‘won’t target truck stops and services’

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has obtained an important clarification from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) regarding the recent tightening of weekly rest enforcement policy – which appears to assuage concerns that drivers could face fines for taking their full weekly rest periods in their cabs even if parked at motorway service areas or truck stops.

The DVSA’s ban on lorry drivers taking full weekly rests in cabs, which took effect on 1 November, is being enforced “outside formal rest areas (i.e. service areas and truck stops)”, the agency confirmed, in written advice to the RHA.

“In line with European law, DVSA will be enforcing a ban on lorry drivers taking full weekly rests in cabs on or adjacent to public roads,” the agency said in its advice.

“This will include lay-bys and other public parking places that have no toilet, shower and food facilities.”

Drivers caught taking a full 45-hour weekly rest in their cabs in such places could face £300 fines. DVSA may also take the view that a break taken in an unsuitable place may not count as a proper break period, and insist that a further 45 hours are taken at a suitable venue.

The advice continued: “DVSA may use roadside checks that take place at a point when the driver is not currently taking a full weekly rest to check on in-cab sleeping.

“Where DVSA suspects the last full weekly rest has been taken in the cab outside of a formal rest area it will consider:

  • If the tachograph (and for vehicles in international use, times of entry into the UK) indicates that it is plausible that the driver was at his home address or the vehicle at its base during the weekly rest. If so then no action will be taken.
  • If proof can be provided that the full weekly rest was taken appropriately (including evidence of rest taken outside the cab or in a formal rest area), then no action will be taken.”

The agency added that: “there will be no sanctions related to using the cab for sleeping during limited weekly rests and overnight rests.”

The clarification appears to indicate a more relaxed attitude to the issue than may be found in mainland Europe, where ‘weekended’ drivers are often forbidden from spending full weekly rest periods in their cabs, but must either return home or be booked into hotel accommodation.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said last month that: “It would be totally inappropriate to ban all in-cab weekly rests; the impact on UK international and long-distance operators would have been catastrophic.

“The problem we have is with is inconsiderate, and sometimes illegal weekly rests taken where there are no facilities. That is bad for the public, for the reputation of the industry, for drivers’ health, and for the safety of other road users.”

“Rest facilities for HGV drivers are scarce, and in order to comply with their working hours they need somewhere safe and secure to rest,” he later added.

“…Punishing drivers for illegal parking is one thing, but changes to the current, poorly equipped infrastructure must be made in order to keep Britain’s economy moving.”

The RHA recommends that, where full weekend rests are taken away from base at paid-for lorry parking facilities, drivers keep receipts to demonstrate they have parked appropriately.

Meanwhile, in discussions with the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Transport Operator has raised the question of operators using the letter of the law to take advantage of the provision in EU regulations which allows drivers to shorten their weekly rest to 24 hours when away from base.

Transport Operator pointed out that some operators park trucks up close to, but not in, their operating centres, so they can be on their way again in 24, rather than 45, hours. In some cases, trucks are parked up on the same road as the truck’s designated operating centre, but outside its boundaries.

Es Shepherd, who runs the FTA’s members’ advice service, confirmed that, as far as the legislation was concerned, there was no reference as to where the reduced rest must take place, provided it was not at the vehicle’s base.

Image: DVSA Crown copyright

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