The impact of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has lead to the temporary relaxation of HGV driving time rules.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport have agreed to allow for an urgent and temporary derogation on certain EU driving and resting time rules.
The move will apply to all HGV operators and drivers transporting goods who are subject to the EU’s driver’s hours and tachograph rules.
The derogation will apply retrospectively from last Sunday (January 9) to January 30, and will be reviewed every week.
The move follows requests from the haulage industry due to the impact of the highly-contagious Omicron variant.
It is hoped the derogation will ensure continuity of supply chains.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister of State for Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, said: “We have granted a temporary relaxation of the EU driving time and resting time rules due to the impact the Covid-19 Omicron variant is having on HGV operations.
“Crucially, these relaxation measures maintain a balance between driver welfare, operator flexibility, road safety and minimising disruption to supply chains. These arrangements will be kept under continual review.
“I want to stress however, that driver safety and other road users’ safety must not be compromised at any stage.
“I want to thank all in our haulage and logistics sector for their continued hard work during this challenging period. Their resilience and commitment ensures that our shelves remain stocked and our chains of supply for food and essential goods keep moving,” the minister said.
The derogation will see the fortnightly driving limit increase from 90 hours to 112 hours.
Drivers will be able to drive for a maximum of 56 hours in each consecutive week until the derogation expires.
There is no change to the rules relating to working time.
Drivers who may encounter delays on their journey are to be given extra flexibility by increasing the current maximum of three reduced daily rest periods to five, between any two weekly rest periods.
However, the applicable spread must continue to be complied with, on whatever day that a daily rest is extended to make a weekly rest.
The rules relating to weekly rest are also being relaxed by allowing drivers to take a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours in each consecutive week during the relaxation period.
There will be no obligation on a driver to take at least one regular weekly rest period in any two consecutive weeks until the derogation expires.
Compensation will not be required where reduced weekly rest is being taken.
Drivers will have to record the reasons for availing of the derogation on their tachograph document.
The RSA said that drivers should not be expected to work if they are tired and should not deviate from the rules if it jeopardies road safety.