Lorry drivers transporting fodder to be given some leeway

HGV (heavy goods vehicle) operators transporting fodder during the current crisis will be given some leeway in relation to driver hours, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

This move has been taken following ongoing liaison over the past few days between the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the RSA about HGV transport operations associated with the delivery of animal fodder.

The RSA has chosen to recognise the “extraordinary and unexpected circumstances linked to unusual weather conditions in areas of the country and adverse impacts on the availability of animal fodder”.

‘Pragmatic approach’

As a result of this, the RSA has confirmed that it will adopt a pragmatic approach when reviewing driver’s hours compliance with driving and resting time periods during the course of roadside inspections and at premises inspections in respect of delivery and collection of such material.

Under current regulations, the key requirements are that you must not drive:
  • Without a break for more than 4.5 hours. After driving for 4.5 hours, a break of at least 45 minutes is mandatory. You can distribute that break over the 4.5 hours;
  • For more than nine hours per day or 56 hours per week. This may be extended to 10 hours no more than twice during a week;
  • More than 90 hours in two consecutive weeks.

In a statement, the authority stated: “During inspections, the history of the driver’s and operator’s overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed and that any deviation from the driving and resting time rules relates only to the carriage of animal fodder.

These arrangements apply from April 6 until April 20, 2018, but will be kept under continuous review in the light of the prevailing circumstances and having regard to wider road safety considerations

“Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort.

“HGV operators must put in place contingency measures to cater for emergency and urgent situations and this must be properly documented and retained for inspection. This should be agreed by operators and their drivers.”

However, the requirement to take breaks after 4.5 hours driving and weekly rest remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced, the RSA warned.

As regards weekly rest, the authority will also apply a pragmatic approach in cases where drivers take more than one reduced weekly rest over a two week driving period in respect of fodder deliveries.

Records

Continuing, the statement said: “Appropriate arrangements must be in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers in respect of the carriage of animal fodder.

Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or print-outs the reasons why they are exceeding the prescribed limits as well as demonstrate that the carriage involved related to animal fodder.

“Driver safety and other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users,” it concluded.