Last reviewed 20 April 2020

A number of announcements and publications have been made as a result of the impact which the current coronavirus crisis is having on commercial drivers.

EU and GB drivers’ hours rules

In March, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced a temporary relaxation of the EU drivers’ hours rules for a 30-day period which expired at 11:59pm on 16 April 2020. This concerned specifically the delivery of essential items to retailers.

The DfT is now directing all operators to the guidance available as “Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: all sectors carriage of goods by road”. This can be found at GOV.UK.

Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relaxations where necessary as they are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. At the time of writing, the relaxations apply until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.

COVID-19 Statutory Document

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has issued a Statutory Document which recognises the challenges that heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and public service vehicle (PSV) drivers will face in the coming months and seeks to support them through flexible working practices and a proportionate approach.

COVID-19, Contingency and Emergency Planning can be found at assets.publishing.service.gov.uk and represents temporary updates to Statutory Documents 2, 3, 4, 9 and 14.

It sets out the approach that Traffic Commissioners will adopt in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Great Britain.

“It is not possible to envisage every situation which might occur during the current outbreak,” the Document states, “but this may extend from a temporary shortage of drivers or Transport Managers to the possible loss of access to an Operating Centre.”

Traffic Commissioners may, for example, accept a previous satisfactory financial check rather than requiring tangible evidence to show that financial standing can be met in the future. They are also advised to consider making good use of Periods of Grace and of temporary exemptions.

Access to welfare facilities

Concerns around access to welfare facilities for visiting delivery drivers have been brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it has decided to take action.

It has decided to review its approach, including guidance to duty holders, and has re-examined the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, in particular Regulations 20 and 21.

“We will begin to update our guidance to say that drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work,” the HSE said. “As this is likely to take some time, key stakeholders are being informed now.”

While it recognises that the majority of duty holders do already provide reasonable access to toilets, the HSE has stressed that the welfare of all workers is a priority, not least during the current crisis.

Further to the subject of driver welfare, the DfT has confirmed that motorway and major trunk road services will remain open 24 hours a day following advice from the Government deeming them to be essential services.

“The welfare of commercial drivers is a priority,” the DfT said. “While some service stations have reduced their opening hours, fuel, toilets, food and drink remain available at all service stations 24 hours a day.”

It advises drivers to plan their break stops by checking the information available from Highways England at www.trafficengland.com/motorway-service-areas.