The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport have agreed to allow a temporary and urgent derogation in respect of certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules.
The proposed derogation will apply to all operators and drivers subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of goods.
The move is being made because of the impact the COVID-19 Omicron variant is having on HGV operations, the importance of ensuring continuity of supply chains, the importance of the road haulage sector to the national economy and in response to requests from the haulage industry.
Minister of State for Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, said, “We have granted a temporary relaxation of the EU driving time and resting time rules due to the impact the COVID-19 Omicron variant is having on HGV operations. Crucially, these relaxation measures maintain a balance between driver welfare, operator flexibility, road safety and minimising disruption to supply chains. These arrangements will be kept under continual review.
These steps are being taken to ensure key supply chains for food and essential goods are kept open. I want to stress however, that driver safety and other road users’ safety must not be compromised at any stage. I want to thank all in our haulage and logistics sector for their continued hard work during this challenging period. Their resilience and commitment ensures that our shelves remain stocked and our chains of supply for food and essential goods keep moving.”
Coming into effect: The derogation will apply retrospectively from 9th January 2022 up to 30th January 2022 and will be reviewed every week as regards application and scope.
Summary of measures being introduced:
The driving time rules are being relaxed by lifting the fortnightly driving limit from ninety (90) hours to one hundred and twelve (112) hours. Because of this approach, drivers will be entitled to drive a maximum fifty-six (56) hours in each consecutive week until the derogation expires. There is no change to the rules relating to working time.
The maximum of three (3) reduced daily rest periods between any two (2) weekly rest periods is also being increased from three (3) to five (5) to provide drivers with some extra flexibility should they encounter delays on their journeys.
However, it is important to note that the applicable spread must continue to be complied with, on whatever day that a daily rest is extended to make a weekly rest. For example, if a driver avails of the maximum of five (5) reduced daily rest periods on the first five (5) days since the end of the previous weekly rest period and then continues to drive on the sixth (6th) consecutive day his/her daily spread shall not exceed thirteen (13) hours on day six (6).
The rules relating to weekly rest are also being relaxed by allowing drivers to take a reduced weekly rest of at least twenty-four (24) hours in each consecutive week during the relaxation period. There will be no obligation on a driver to take at least one (1) regular weekly rest period in any two (2) consecutive weeks until the derogation expires. Furthermore, there shall not be any requirement for compensation where reduced weekly rest is being taken.
While the current situation may impact on driving time, driver safety or other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not deviate from the rules if it jeopardises road safety nor should they be expected to drive whilst tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
As outlined above, there is no change to the rules relating to working time.
The RSA will keep this under review and will consider making any further changes as necessary in consultation with stakeholders.