Relaxed enforcement of drivers’ hours extended again - Get the full facts

Posted by AndrewT on 21st Jan 2022

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced a new relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours in England, Scotland and Wales. The temporary relaxation started from 12:01am Wednesday, January 12 and will run until 11:59pm on February 10, 2022. The extension reflects the ongoing disruption caused by coronavirus and the Omicron variant with outbreaks within operators and absence of drivers. The relaxation to the enforcement of drivers’ hours applies to anyone driving in Great Britain under the retained EU drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road. The DfT stressed that the drivers’ hours rules are important for road safety and any deviation from the rules must be a last resort. It is important to note that the temporary relaxation to the drivers’ hours rules must not be used if any one of the follow three conditions is not met:
  1. Evidence of detriment to the wider community
Proof that there is significant risk to human and/or animal welfare or a failure of a particular supply chain that will have a serious impact on essential public services must be provided. Transport operators must obtain, to their satisfaction, confirmation from their customers that such a risk exists and that the customer is unlikely to be able to resolve the risk in other ways. For the transportation of food, fuel and medicines, this includes avoiding the risk of acute shortages at retail outlets that would impact consumers. Other detrimental factors can include losses of production that would lead to shortages. However, shortages at retail outlets are not a justification for all goods such as domestic building supplies, DIY, clothing or takeaway food and drink.
  1. Evidence that a relaxation would lead to a significant improvement in the situation
This includes evidence that the risk is unlikely to be resolved without using the relaxation.
  1. Driver safety must not be compromised
Operators and self-employed drivers must assess the risks of using the temporary relaxation and implement suitable control measures and/or mitigations, so that the safety of the driver, other road users and those involved in loading and unloading is not compromised. Transport managers should conduct a risk assessment and ensure appropriate controls are in place. The situation should be monitored and reviewed as long as the relaxation is used. Driver fatigue is risk to all road users and operators should consider the risk of fatigue with any relaxation of shift patterns. The relaxation should also be agreed with the drivers involved. This will also help with driver retention. It should be noted that drivers will continue to be bound by Working Time Regulations which limits the working time (including driving) a driver can do in any given week to a maximum of 60 hours, with an average of 48 hours a week calculated over a rolling 17- to 26-week period. Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules Retained EU drivers’ hours can be temporarily relaxed as follows:
  • The daily driving limit can be increased from 9 to 10 hours up to 4 times in a week (instead of the normal permitted increase to 10 hours twice a week) – all other daily driving limits remain at 9 hours.
  • The replacement of the requirement to take at least 2 weekly rest periods including at least one regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in a 2-week period, with an alternative permissible pattern of weekly rest periods as specified below, and an increase to the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours
The alternative pattern of weekly rest periods for drivers using the relaxation related to weekly rest periods is as follows:
  • A regular weekly rest period is not required in a 2-week period provided 2 reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours are taken.
  • Following this, and by the end of the next 2 weeks, 2 regular weekly rest periods must be taken. However, any reduction in weekly rest shall be compensated for in the normal way by an equivalent period of rest taken before the end of the third week following the week in question.
  • In addition, any rest taken as compensation for a reduced weekly rest period shall be attached to a regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (which can be split over 2 regular weekly rest periods).
This relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving, which allow for 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest breaks in certain circumstances. Drivers engaged partly in international journeys should not use this relaxation. All other drivers’ hours rules remain in force unchanged, including the requirement for drivers to take a break period of at least 45 minutes after driving for 4 hours 30 minutes. With this complex and changing situation management of compliance with drivers’ hours regulations can be a burden especially to smaller operators. SmartAnalysis is the UK’s leading tachograph analysis and drivers’ hours compliance management service. You can sign-up for just £40 per driver per year and save yourself time, money and potential headaches.