Temporary adjustments to Drivers’ Hours during the COVID-19 outbreak

During this unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, key workers including hauliers and logistics teams have played a vital role in keeping essential retailers stocked and delivering life-saving supplies to medical facilities and pharmacies. At Drive Personnel, we understand how important these services are at this difficult time, and are working tirelessly to provide our clients with qualified, experienced HGV drivers and transport staff.

In this time of national emergency, it is fundamental that supermarket shelves remain stocked of essential items to give families and individuals access to food and pharmaceutical goods during periods of social distancing and self-isolation, and that local surgeries and hospitals are equipped with the PPE and medicine that they need to help fight the coronavirus. As a result, the government have temporarily adjusted the laws which dictate the legal working hours of drivers to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are Drivers’ Hours?

Drivers’ Hours are regulations set by the European Union to restrict the number of hours driven at one time by commercial drivers. These rules are in place to protect drivers and other road users from the effects of tiredness behind the wheel, which can cause accidents with fatal consequences. The EU daily driving limit is 9 hours, with a mandatory daily break of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours of driving. The daily rest requirement for drivers is 11 hours, meaning that they need a period of 11 hours to pass between each day’s driving. The number of hours driven is recorded through a tachograph which can be requested for review by the DVSA at any time.

Why are the rules being changed?

In this unprecedented pandemic, the demand for daily essentials like food and personal products has increased, as well as a demand for life-saving medical supplies. In order to meet demand, the EU regulations for Drivers’ Hours are being adjusted as follows: 

  • Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours;
  • Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours;
  • Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively;
  • Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six-24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period; although two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight;
  • The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.
  • Drivers must not use relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time. This is to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.

Who is affected by Drivers’ Hours regulations?

Although the UK has left the EU, EU Drivers’ Hours still apply to any driver operating a goods vehicle or passenger-carrying vehicle until the end of the Brexit transition at the end of 2020. This therefore applies to drivers of goods vehicles or combinations of vehicle and trailer of more than 3.5 tonnes and passenger vehicles with more than 9 seats (including the driver’s), unless covered by a specific EU-wide exemption or a national derogation. For details on these exemptions and national derogations please view the Department for Transport’s published guidance.

If you are unsure how to practice the new Drivers’ Hours requirements, contact your employer or visit the gov.uk website.

About Drive Personnel

Drive Personnel are an experienced HGV driving recruitment agency based in Southampton, specialising in the transport and logistics industries. We fully understand our clients’ requirements and have a thorough knowledge of all current rules and regulations related to the industry. Additionally, we are able to source drivers required for short notice, part time and full time cover enquiries wherever necessary. If your business needs help to recruit a driver, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, Drive Personnel have a reliable database of LGV Class 1 Drivers (C+E), LGV Class 2 Drivers (C), 7.5 Tonne Drivers (C1) and Van Drivers (B) to help your business.

For more information about our driver recruitment services, call our friendly team on 023 8069 5600 or email info@drivepersonnel.co.uk.