New draft Regulations on driving hours/rest-breaks and tachograph rules

On 14 January 2019 the Government published the Drivers Hours and Tachographs Regulations 2019 and accompanying explanatory memorandum.

On 14 January 2019 the Government published the Drivers Hours and Tachographs (Amendment etc.)(EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (“the New Regulations”) and accompanying explanatory memorandum. The key provisions will come into force on exit day (29 March 2019).

Currently, the EU Drivers Hours Regulations(561/2006)  apply to drivers of goods vehicles with a maximum permissible weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes and passenger vehicles with ten or more seats, unless covered by a specific EU wide exemption or national derogation. It prescribes maximum limits for driving time and minimum requirements for break and rest periods and recording requirements for drivers of vehicles within the scope of the Regulations.

Currently, the EU Tachograph Regulation (165/2014) sets out the requirements on the construction, installation, use, testing and control of tachographs used in road transport in the EU.

The New Regulations confirm that current rules set out in the EU Driver’s Hours Regulation (561/2006) and the EU Tachograph Regulation (165/2014) will continue to apply post-Brexit. The UK will retain domestic versions of both these pieces of legislation to ensure that the regime currently in force will continue to operate effectively post-Brexit.

The rules will continue to apply to drivers of most large vehicles (i.e. goods vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes and passenger vehicles with ten or more seats). This means that the rules relating to driver’s hours and tachographs will remain the same for road transport operations undertaken exclusively within the United Kingdom.

Currently, the EU Driver’s Hours Regulation (561/2006) and EU Tachograph Regulation (165/2014) apply to road transport operations between UK and EU member states, Switzerland, or non-EU EEA Member States. Once the UK leaves the EU this will cease to be the case.

A separate set of rules which apply internationally (the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport – or ‘AETR’) will apply in respect of operations to these countries instead of the EU Regulations after exit day. The UK, the 27 EU member states, and a further 21 Countries (including EEA members states Norway and Lichtenstein, bur not Iceland) are ‘contracting parties’ to the AETR.

The current EU Regulations and the AETR are substantively the same. This means that, as the EU Regulations and the AETR contain the same rules, international road transport operations will be subject to the same drivers hours and tachograph requirements after exit day as before exit day.

Various technical amendments will be made to the Transport Act 1968 and other legislation to make explicit reference to the AETR, to ensure that the AETR is fully implemented in the UK, and to remove any outdated references to EU rules and institutions. Amendments will also be made to restate current rules “in a clearer and more accessible way”.

The only parts of the above EU Regulations that will be fully revoked relate to current arrangements for co-operation and information exchange between the UK and EU member states – which will not have any impact on operational best-practice.

There are no plans to produce new guidance on these issues, as the driver’s hours and tachograph rules will remain substantively the same post-Brexit. Current guidance  will be updated in due course to correct any outdated terminology.

The new draft Regulations do not contain any specific monitoring or review arrangements. Although the UK Government will retain the ability to change the current rules post-Brexit, it does not appear that there is any intention to do so, at least in the short term. The new draft Regulations will apply to the whole of the UK including Northern Ireland) although any changes required to domestic legislation in Northern Ireland will be made separately.

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