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:
- Evidence of detriment to the wider community
- Evidence that a relaxation would lead to a significant improvement in the situation
- Driver safety must not be compromised
- 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
- 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).