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Volumetric vehicle exemption loophole to close?

There is growing support to bring ten vehicle exemptions into the O-licensing scheme. It is estimated that this could affect around 40,000 goods and engineering plant vehicles and require them to pass an annual roadworthiness test and comply with the requirements of the operators’ licence.

A Department for Transport (DfT) consultation that ran between December 2014 and March 2015 showed that 78% of respondents supported the idea of closing the loophole that currently exempts ten vehicle categories from an annual test. Vehicles that are covered by the exemption include mobile cranes, recovery vehicles, certain types of engineering plant, and volumetric mixers.

The Mineral Products Association has also warned of a looming road safety crisis from overloaded vehicles and overworked drivers that do not have to comply with drivers’ hours law and has asked the Government to take action.

Virtually any vehicle above 3.5 tonnes is classified as a HGV and is subject to strict regulations. Due to a legal loophole, vehicles known as ‘volumetrics’ are not classified as HGVs and are exempt from the usual regulations that exist to protect all road users and drivers of HGVs. This is despite the fact that there is very little physical difference between the volumetric vehicles and other HGVs. The cab and chassis is the same, it just has different sort of equipment on the back. To the general public it just looks like another HGV.

As a driver of a HGV you have to operate within the EU drivers’ hours law and working time rules. These rules exist to protect drivers from working excessive hours and help to promote road safety. Drivers’ hours are recorded by the digital tachograph and strict rules exist which are regulated by the authorities to ensure compliance. However there is no limit on drivers’ hours if you’re driving a volumetric truck!

The DfT said that it intends to undertake further studies into the potential impact on those in the recovery sector and for mobile crane operators before making any decisions about changes to current exemptions in late 2015.

For help in managing drivers’ hours see Smartanalysis.

Sources Politics Home and Commercial Motor

Posted on: 17.08.2015

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