£300 fine for weekly rest taken in HGVs
Following on from last months article on spot fines for drivers breaking drivers’ hours rules, the DVSA now also has the power to sanction drivers who take full weekly rest breaks in cabs outside formal rest areas such service areas and truck stops.
The measures available to the DVSA include:
• Financial penalty deposits/fixed penalty notices of £300.
• Prohibitions on the driver until the full weekly rest is properly taken – ie, outside the cab or in a formal rest area.
• Reporting operators involved to their licensing authorities, including abroad.
According to the DVSA, a full weekly rest break (including extended compensatory rest being taken for an earlier shortened weekly rest) taken in whole or in part in a cab outside a formal rest area will not be considered a valid full weekly rest break for enforcement purposes.
There will be no sanctions related to using the cab for sleeping during limited weekly rests and overnight rests.
Only current offences will be sanctioned – the latest full weekly rest will be considered.
There will be targeted enforcement with other agencies at locations where the problems are most intense (such as in Kent and on the approaches to certain ports elsewhere). The DVSA says it will be influenced by the wider public and safety interest in what sanctions it deploys, including in considering whether to prohibit driving.
The enforcement of full weekly rest may include sanctions against drivers in the process of taking the full rest, but who have not completed it. It will need to be clear from the tachograph records that, to comply with the minimum rest rules, the driver could only be interpreted as in the process of taking a full weekly rest. A driver found doing this could be prohibited for 45 hours from the enforcement encounter, hence obliging him to ‘re-start’ his full weekly rest.
The DVSA may use roadside checks that take place at a point when the driver is not currently taking a full weekly rest to check on in- cab sleeping. Where it suspects the last full weekly rest has been taken in the cab outside of a formal rest area, it will consider:
• If the tachograph (and for vehicles in international use, times of entry into the UK) indicates that it is plausible that the driver was at his home address or the vehicle at its base during the weekly rest. If so, no action will be taken.
• If proof can be provided that the full weekly rest was taken appropriately (including evidence of rest taken outside the cab or in a formal rest area), no action will be taken.
“We fully support the need for drivers to step away from their cabs to take their rest breaks,” Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Policy at the FTA, said, “but without a consistent, widespread network of safe and secure rest stops nationwide, drivers will still opt to take rest in their cabs – particularly when their fully-fitted cab offers a better standard than some accessible amenities. The FTA is calling on Government to use common sense in applying the new £300 fines system, to accommodate the fact that in parts of the country, facilities for drivers are substandard or simply not available.”
RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett commented: “It would be totally inappropriate to ban all in-cab weekly rests, the impact on UK international and long distance operators would have been catastrophic. The problem we have is with is inconsiderate, and sometimes illegal, weekly rests taken where there are no facilities. The real solution is more lorry parking. The authorities are duty-bound to tackle this urgent problem. We are also worried that many operators won’t know of the change in the law and could be fined if they park inappropriately.”
The RHA recommends that where weekend rests are taken in paid for lorry parking facilities that drivers keep receipts to demonstrate they have parked appropriately.