Temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules

Temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules

In response to requests from Industry, the Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed to a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules. 

This relaxation will come into effect across England, Scotland, and Wales for the drivers of vehicles involved in the delivery of food, non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning), and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals when undertaking the following journeys:

  • Distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre)
  • From manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections)
  • From manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre)
  • Between distribution centres and transport hub trunking
  • Transport hub deliveries to stores

This exemption does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers. The temporary relaxation applies from 00:01 on Wednesday 18th March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Thursday 16th April 2020.

The DfT reserves the right to withdraw the relaxation earlier or extend the relaxation if circumstances change. It wishes to make clear that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired, and employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

For the drivers and work in question, the EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

  1. Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of nine hours with one of 11 hours
  2. Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to nine hours
  3. Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly (90 hours) driving limits to 60 and 96 hours respectively
  4. Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six 24-hour periods to seven 24-hour periods. Although, two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight
  5. The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after four-and-a-half hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after five-and-a-half hours driving

N.B. Drivers must not use relaxation points (a) and (d) at the same time. This is to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.

The drivers in question must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

UPDATE: Following calls between RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, and the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, the DfT has announced that the current limited Drivers’ Hours relaxation will apply to all road haulage operations from 00:01 on Monday 23rd March until 23:59 on Tuesday 21st April 2020.

For any enquiries, contact the Freight Operator Licensing & Roadworthiness Division at the DfT via the switchboard on 0300 330 3000 (during office hours) or to the DfT Duty Office on 0207 944 5999 (out of office hours).

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