Last reviewed 18 April 2020

As might be expected, Government advice on how various sectors should deal with the coronavirus crisis is changing rapidly but the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have brought together all the guidance on the relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules and will apply to all sectors of the carriage of goods by road.

Available at GOV.UK, this applies to England, Scotland and Wales.

It covers a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules (under Regulation (EC) 561/2006) and a similar temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of GB drivers’ hours rule.

Some of this was already covered in our recent report (see Drivers and the coronavirus) but it has now been made clear that GB drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

  • the GB duty time limit of 11 hours can be replaced with 12 hours; and

  • the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours can be replaced with 11 hours.

Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation on five 5 days in any seven day period, and must take a rest period of 24 hours within the same seven day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.

The two temporary relaxations apply from 00:01 on Monday 23 March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020 (subject to review).

Which drivers are affected?

Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary.

The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys.

It should be noted that there are currently three other active relaxations for certain journeys and sectors. These remain active during this exemption and expire at the date specified in the notice of those relaxations which can all be accessed via the link given above.

They are:

  • Delivery of essential items to retailers;

  • Delivery of essential items to consumers; and

  • Delivery of LPG.

The DfT has emphasised that it is not necessary for drivers in scope of the current delivery of LPG exemption to use the general GB driving hours relaxation. These drivers must not use this general relaxation and should use the one applicable to the delivery of LPG instead, it insists.

It has also reinforced its message that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired, it points out, and employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.