The EC (sorry, just when you thought it wouldn’t continue to bug you!) has announced proposals to amend both the Drivers Hours Rules and also impose restrictive legislation on small vans. As we already know this is likely to be accepted under UK legislation even though we are leaving the community. The amendments to the current rules affect the weekly rest and sleeping in the cab during the weekly rest period.

The new proposal is outlined as follows:

  • After a reduced weekly rest the driver must take a regular weekly rest plus compensation time
  • Over a four week period the driver can take up to 2 reduced rests in a row. Compensation for the reduced rests must be added to a next regular weekly rest.
  • Drivers cannot sleep in the cabin during regular weekly rests. Employers must provide accommodation for drivers when they take regular weekly rest during a long-distance transport operation.

The FTA has stated that they have asked the Commission through the ETF ‘to clarify that drivers must spend the weekly rest of 45 hours or more outside of the vehicle’s cab, in suitable accommodation with adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities, paid for by the employer’. The Commission has said that there will be an obligation on transport undertakings to organise their drivers’ work in such a way that they are able to return to their home for a weekly rest at least once within three consecutive weeks. For double-crewed vehicles, the new rules clarify where the second driver can rest and confirm that breaks can be taken in the vehicle if the driver is not driving.

The one we have been warning about for some months now – bringing vans into the O’Licence net – is outlined in EC Regulation 1071/2009 on access to the occupation of road transport operator which is to be amended to extend some of its provisions to light vans.

This too has not been well received by the FTA which pointed out that four million vans are used on the UK’s roads every day and that the new proposals “will take the focus of the DVSA away from enforcing existing road safety laws against operators with dangerous, badly maintained and overloaded vans”.

The proposal (available at ec.europa.eu) states that hauliers operating solely with light commercial vehicles will be excluded from some, but not all, of the requirements of the regulation. Requirements on the transport manager, good repute, professional competence and obligations related to those requirements are not proposed as mandatory, although Member States will be able to apply them if they wish to do so.

However, the requirements regarding effective and stable establishment and appropriate financial standing will apply to such hauliers in all Member States.

That being the case, those of you who operate a mixed fleet of trucks and vans may have to make financial provision for the vans in your fleet under ‘financial standing’. This whole issue will be on the table for discussion at the Movers & Storers Show in November where we hope to have a panel representing the legislative bodies and associations voicing their views.

Specifically talking about these new proposals Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at the FTA, said “We have serious concerns with crucial aspects of the package, such as the unnecessary imposition of bureaucratic rules for vans, and the move to ban drivers from taking their weekly rest in the cab. We will continue to work with all European institutions involved to ensure our concerns are addressed as a matter of urgency.”