As a result of the current health crisis, a number of necessary steps and new approaches have been taken to assist operators in goods and passenger operations to keep fleets operating whilst also seeking to protect the health of everyone. (Updated to 23 March)
Ashtons Legal have set out below some useful information. You can find further Ashtons Legal advice about COVID-19 here.
Annual test for HGVs, trailers and PSVs
With effect from 21 March 2020, an automatic 3-month time extension has been provided for:
- Any vehicle needing its first test before 31 March 2020
- Any vehicle or trailer being put back in service where test certificate expired before March 2020
- APSV with an MOT expiring in March 2020 & vehicles needing a dangerous goods (ADR) test before 31 March 2020. For Guidance on applying for extensions click here.
Drivers’ hours’ rules/working time
Relaxation of EU/GB drivers hours rules has now been extended to all sectors and journeys through the Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road and started on Monday 23 March 2020 running until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020 (unless varied or extended).
There are specific exemptions relating to daily/weekly driving limits, breaks and daily/weekly rest periods. Operators and drivers can only apply the relaxations if truly necessary.
Further, drivers must endorse the application of the relaxations on charts or digital printouts.
The temporary exemption above runs alongside other relaxations already in force to be found here: Delivery of essential items to retailers – Delivery of essential items to consumers Delivery of LPG.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner has issued Contingency and Emergency Planning Guidance covering periods of grace, operating centres, financial standing, transport managers, interim licences, temporary goods exemptions, bus registrations and community transport.
In addition to this, an Advice document from the Traffic Commissioners was published on 20th March 2020.
A lot of important information is contained here, such as how to deal with applying for ‘periods of grace’ where financial issues may arise or what to do if an operating centre may become unavailable – we will be preparing separate blogs about this.
Suspension of driving tests for all vehicles
Theory tests and practical driving tests stand suspended to ‘help prevent the spread of coronavirus’. This is up to and including 20 April 2020 for theory tests and for up to 3 months for driving tests. It applies to all types of theory tests, driving tests and approved driving instructor (ADI) standards checks.
NB there is provision for emergency tests for critical workers if your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in a critical sector. These include health and social care; education and childcare; key public services; local and national government; food and other necessary goods; public safety and national security; transport; utilities, communication, and financial services.
COVID-19 is going to create a number of other foreseeable practical problems, For example, it may not be possible to have maintenance inspections/brake testing on time. It may be necessary to change the maintenance provider or take maintenance in-house. We strongly advise operators to update any changes by making the usual notifications and keep a clear audit trail/record of problems and issues. If you require advice then please contact us through this website. (Please note that there is specific provision for extending inspection intervals in the Advice document from the Traffic Commissioners ).
All Government agencies will be affected by restrictions caused by COVID-19. DVSA will not be able to conduct site visits and reduce other types of activity.
Ashtons Legal envisage that this may trigger greater use of desk-based assessments via the Remote Enforcement Office (REO) system where operators are obliged to provide information, data, and records to DVSA. Such assessments need to be taken seriously and comprehensive information needs to be provided.
If you are contacted by DSVA in this way then please contact Ashtons Legal for advice. Problems arising invariably arise from not carrying out this procedure correctly.
Furloughed workers/job retention scheme
On 20th March assistance for furloughed workers was announced and Ashtons employment team comment here.
Ashtons will update you in due course with regard to any measures that might be introduced for the self-employed.
Ashtons will continue to update you about developments as they arise.
Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Road Transport team or by calling 0330 404 0778.