DVSA ‘In cab’ rest ban – A month on, how is it working?

DVSA ‘In cab’ rest ban – A month on, how is it working?

The DVSA introduced the ban on lorry drivers’ weekly rest being taken ‘in cab’ on the first of November 2017. Just over a month on from the controversial measure, we take stock on the impact it appears to be having.

Rewind – how did the ban on taking 45 hour weekly breaks ‘in cab’ come about in the first place?

Back in February of 2017, the European Court of Justice made a ruling that stated drivers were not allowed to take their weekly 45 hour break ‘in cab’.

The ruling immediately sparked widespread condemnation from many drivers who felt that it was really up to them where they spent their leisure time.

Meanwhile, the various EU nations individual interpretations of the rule varied. In France and Germany, hefty fines of 1800 euros were announced with immediate effect for any driver acting in breach of the EUJ ruling, while in the UK, enforcement appeared more relaxed.

Confusion following DVSA announcement on enforcement

Former transport secretary Lord Ahmad stated in March, that “The EU drivers’ hours regulations allow HGV drivers to take a daily rest or a reduced weekly rest in their vehicle, provided the vehicle is stationary and is fitted with suitable sleeping facilities. However, the regulations do not allow a regular weekly rest period of 45 hours to be taken in the vehicle. Subject to stakeholder views, the DVSA will be enforcing this through a £300 fixed penalty notice/financial penalty deposit.”

For many, the statement contained rather a lot of vagaries, and the DVSA’s own announcement didn’t help a great deal. It advised, in a simplified guidance on drivers hours, that “drivers cannot take a regular weekly rest period in their vehicles.”

Clarification and enforcement

Ultimately, and just prior to the ruling coming into force in the UK, the DVSA stated that drivers taking in cab weekly breaks at official rest areas will not be targeted or issued with the £300 fine. They also maintained wording that used the term ‘regularly’ without indicating what ‘regularly’ really means. Every other weekly rest? Every fifth one? Once a year?

On the one hand, it could be argued that the DVSA is trying to help UK drivers by taking a lip service approach to the EUJ ruling – relatively low financial penalties, slow to announce enforcement to the point of apparent deliberate reluctance, and sticking to the use of vague language which appears to give them reason to avoid issuing fines.

On the other hand, the DVSA’s approach has certainly led to confusion and uncertainty. Drivers wanting to be sure they aren’t deliberately contravening regulation are concerned that they may also be missing out on the flexibility to take their weekly break as they wish.

Either way, at the time of writing, no fine has yet been issued in the UK by the DVSA, and this at a busy time of year for commercial drivers.

How do you feel about the ruling? Have you carried on as you were or have you changed your rest habits out of concern for your potential liability to a fine?