Additional Driver Hours Consideration
There are some specific factors that can have a bearing on the role of an HGV driver under EU Hours Rules.
Drivers of goods vehicles are sometimes required to travel to a vehicle they are required to drive or from a vehicle they have driven.
Where a vehicle coming within the scope of the EU rules is neither at the driver’s home nor at the employer’s operational centre where the driver is normally based but is at a separate location, time spent travelling to or from that location to take charge of the vehicle, regardless of the mode of transport, cannot be counted as a rest or break, unless the driver is in a ferry or train and has access to a bunk or couchette. Even if the driver is not paid or makes the decision themselves to travel to or from home/base the travel time cannot be counted as rest or break.
For example: If a driver had to drive for 1 hour by car to pick up a vehicle from a location that was not the driver’s home or their normal operating base then this driving would count as other work. Similarly, if they had to drive back by car from a location that was not their normal operating base, this would count as other work.
Provided that road safety is not jeopardised, and to enable a driver to reach a suitable stopping place, a departure from the EU rules may be permitted to the extent necessary to ensure the safety of persons, the vehicle or its load. Drivers must note all the reasons for doing so on the back of their tachograph record sheets if using an analogue tachograph, or on a printout or temporary sheet if using a digital tachograph, at the latest on reaching the suitable stopping place (see relevant sections covering manual entries). Repeated and regular occurrences, however, might indicate to enforcement officers that employers were not in fact scheduling work to enable compliance with the applicable rules.
A judgement by the European Court of Justice dated 9 November 1995 provides a useful guide to how this provision should be interpreted. It can apply only in cases where it unexpectedly becomes impossible to comply with the rules on drivers’ hours during the course of a journey. In other words, planned breaches of the rules are not allowed.
This means that when an unforeseen event occurs, it would be for the driver to decide whether it was necessary to depart from the rules. In doing so, a driver would have to take into account the need to ensure road safety in the process e.g. when driving a vehicle carrying an abnormal load under the Special Types regulations or to follow an instruction that may be given by an enforcement officer such as when under police escort.
Some examples of other events could be; delays caused by severe weather, road traffic accidents, mechanical breakdowns, interruptions of ferry services and any event that causes or is likely to cause danger to the life or health of people or animals. Note that this concession only allows for drivers to reach a suitable stopping place, not necessarily to complete their planned journey. Drivers and operators would be expected to reschedule any disrupted work to remain in compliance with the EU rules.