To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department made of the potential effect on road safety of the decision to temporarily extend operating hours limits for heavy goods vehicle drivers.
It is important to remember that the relaxations are limited in nature. No requirements of the rules for breaks during the day, daily & weekly rest periods, and weekly & fortnightly driving limits have been removed. They have been relaxed in a controlled way. In addition, the relaxations are time limited and only made due to exceptional circumstances.
Our issued guidance makes clear that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired and employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
In addition, drivers remain bound by the requirements in the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. This ensures that drivers do not work long hours, by limiting their overall working hours (which includes driving and any other work), to an average of 48 hours a week over a 17 to 26-week reference period. These regulations also limit drivers to a maximum of 60 hours in any given week, provided the average is still 48 hours. This guarantees drivers are not working continuously long hours, even if working under a temporary relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules.
There have not been any reported accidents identified to the Department involving drivers working under a drivers’ hours relaxation, although there is no specific reporting requirement.