Tim Ridyard from Ashtons Legal looks in more detail at one of the changes in the amended EU Drivers’ Hours Rules (Regulation EU 2020/10454) introduced on 20 August 2020 – additional rules now allow a driver to exceed his or her daily and weekly driving time, but only in certain circumstances.
Under Article 12 EU Regulation 561/2006 a driver has been (and still will be) permitted to depart from the rules on daily driving time, weekly driving time, the 90-hour two-week driving limit, rests and ferry rests “to the extent necessary to ensure the safety of persons, of the vehicle or its load”…
- so long as road safety is not jeopardised, and
- to enable the vehicle to reach a suitable stopping place.
In order to qualify for any relaxation under this rule, the driver must record manually on the tachograph chart of a digital print out (or on a duty roster) the reason for this – and this must be done at the latest on arrival at the suitable stopping place. If this recording requirement is not complied with, then the relaxation simply does not ‘engage’ or apply so, rest / driving time offences will have been committed if the normal maximum limits are exceeded.
The new law – exceeding daily/weekly drive time
The following further relaxations will now be possible, again ‘provided that road safety is not thereby jeopardised and in exceptional circumstances’.
- to exceed daily and weekly driving time by up to one hour in order to reach the operating centre or the driver’s place of residence to take a weekly rest period (NB either type of weekly rest)
- to exceed daily and weekly driving time by up to two hours so long as an uninterrupted break of 30 minutes is taken immediately prior to the additional driving, again to reach the operating centre or the driver’s place of residence, to take a regular weekly rest period. (NB applies only to regular weekly rest).
It should be noted that this is only ‘in exceptional circumstances’ and hence cannot be routinely used as a means to circumvent the normal rules.
This applies to daily driving time, weekly driving time and daily rest periods.
As now, the driver must manually record this on the tachograph chart or digital printout at the latest on arrival at the destination or the suitable stopping place. NB a failure to do this renders it impossible to claim the relaxation from the outset.
NB Where any period has been extended it has to be compensated by an equivalent period of rest attached to any other rest period by the end of the third week following the week in question.
So, the effect of all this is that the existing ability to reach a stopping place remains, to ensure the safety of persons/vehicles/load. However, it is extended in exceptional circumstances for the purpose of drivers reaching the operating centre (“the operator’s operation centre”) or the driver’s home for weekly rest purposes.
Sources: Regulation (EU) 2020/1054 amending Regulation (EC) 561/2006
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