Driver rules relaxed during COVID-19 crisis

Anthony Hoey

March 20 2020

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The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have agreed to relax certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules.

The temporary relaxation of the resting time rules will apply to all operators in the haulage industry and all drivers who are subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules.

The haulage industry plays a critical role in the economy. The relaxation of resting time rules aims to minimise disruption to supply chains while continuing to ensure road safety and driver welfare during the crisis.

Effective immediately from March 18th

The temporary relaxation of the driving and resting time rules is effective from March 18th, 2020 until April 16th, 2020. It will be subject to a weekly review to ensure they remain appropriate.

Relaxation of driving time rules

The fortnightly driving limit has risen from 90 hours to 112 hours. Drivers will be permitted to drive a maximum of 56 hours in each consecutive week until further notice. It’s important to note that drivers and haulage operators are still obliged to comply with the working time rules under the Road Transport Working Time Directive.

Relaxation of rest time rules

During the temporary relaxation of rules, drivers can take a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours in each consecutive week.

Drivers are also not obliged to take at least one regular weekly rest period in any two consecutive weeks. This is pending any subsequent directions from the RSA and the Department of Transport.

Employers should note that drivers are not entitled to any compensatory rest periods where reduced weekly rest is being taken during the crisis.

Employer obligations

Employers should note that they still need to remain compliant with the rules relating to working time. Drivers must not drive more than 60 hours a week or work a weekly average of more than 48 hour weeks. Each operator will need to consider how the relaxation of the rules impacts their weekly average working time calculations.

The RSA specifically reminds HGV operators to make appropriate arrangements to record any extra driving time completed by drivers during the coronavirus crisis. 

Drivers who are availing of the relaxed rules must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or digital tachograph print-outs the reasons and justification why they’re exceeding the prescribed limits.

How each operator implements this temporary relaxation of the rules will depend on their existing operations. HGV employers need to agree on a procedure with their drivers on how to document activity under the relaxed rules.

The RSA reiterates that HGV operators must put contingency measures in place to cater for emergency situations. These measures must be documented and made available for inspection. Likewise, documentary evidence confirming the reason why drivers are taking on extra driving should be retained for at least 12 months.

The RSA advises HGV employers that any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort. Also, employers that do avail of the temporary derogation of the rules will face careful compliance assessments.

Driver safety and all road users’ safety remains paramount and must not be compromised. Drivers should not deviate from the existing rules if it jeopardises road safety.

The relaxation of the rules does not release employers from their duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

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The situation outlined above remains subject to ongoing review. In the meantime, if you would like further complimentary advice on this from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 0818 923 923 or request a callback here.

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