Following in the footsteps of France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, the UK will sign up to the European regulations on weekly rest of 45 hours and will ban drivers of commercial vehicles from taking this rest in their lorries.
The legislative change, which will come into force as of 1st November, was published by the British transport associations RHA and FTA on 10th October, via a statement in which the government agency for the Department of Transport, the DVSA, announced the implementation of the new “cabin rest” law for transport professionals in the United Kingdom.
The British agency considers weekly rest as a serious, very relevant problem, given that numbers of lorries parked in unsuitable, unofficial rest areas have grown significantly, especially in the vicinity of Kent. Many drivers take their weekly rest in terrible conditions before setting off for the continent, where for years many countries have been penalizing cabin rest with hefty fines.
In line with the European regulations, the DVSA has indicated that public car parks that do not have toilets, showers and catering facilities are not considered suitable places in which to take the obligatory weekly rest period required by law.
Until 31st October, the DVSA will be limited to notifying drivers of the new rule, and it will not be until 1st November that it will start to impose sanctions on those who do not comply with the weekly rest requirements:
- Fines up to 300 pounds sterling (although there is already talk of an increase of up to £3,000 to match sanctions in France and Belgium).
- Temporary disqualifications for drivers until the complete weekly rest has been taken correctly. In other words, outside the cabin or at an official rest area.
- The competent authorities will be informed of sanctioned companies in license concession, including abroad.
According to the British press, the news has provoked mixed feelings amongst transport professionals in the UK. Some operators are worried about additional costs that could be incurred by drivers’ rest during long journeys, while others were happy to receive the news, seeing it as putting a stop to the growing number of foreign drivers who work for prolonged periods in the UK and compete “unfairly” within the internal market.
Up until now, European regulations on the matter of rest (EU Regulation 561/2006) assumed biweekly driving, that the driver would take at least two weekly rests of 45 hours or a long rest and another shorter one of at least 24 hours. Nevertheless, if a shorter weekly rest is taken, the missing 21 hours of rest would have to be taken before the end of the third working week. Daily or reduced rests not included in this basis can be taken in vehicles whenever they have the appropriate facilities, and when they are stopped.
The British transport sector remains on everyone’s minds. The news of a change to European regulation as a means of protection against social dumping, especially during this time of uncertainty linked to the unrolling of Brexit, could be received with certain scepticism. Nevertheless, as we have shown in our recent study on how the UK’s exit from the EU will affect transport, the development of any regulation on this matter should be analyzed when the European institution exit agreements have been defined.