Will Brexit mean changes to transport laws and difficulty in accessing international market?


Will Brexit mean changes to transport laws and difficulty in accessing international market?

There is much speculation about exactly what Brexit will mean for the transport industry. We take a look at what legislation is in place that may be affected by Britain leaving the EU.

Existing legislation to remain unchanged?

Most legislation that governs HGV drivers and businesses is in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act, 1995. This is UK domestic legislation, and so it seems highly unlikely that Brexit will impact upon it.

Rules on drivers hours were originally dictated by EU legislation, but these were adopted by the UK Transport Act (1968) and it would seem unlikely that they would be changed materially for those operating on UK roads. Similarly, hauliers taking their vehicles into Europe would naturally have to abide by EU regulations – as they do already. So again, little change can be foreseen.

New legislation

EU regulation from back in 2016 saw the introduction of the ‘smart tachograph’, which it is hoped will reduce administrative burdens and help combat tachograph offending. The regulation meant that from 2 March 2016, any newly registered vehicle needed to be fitted with a smart tachograph. This was an EU directive, and has also been seen as a contributory to the labour shortage because it creates another financial barrier to becoming a haulier. On that basis, it may be that the UK chooses not to go through with the implementation, or chooses to scrap it once Britain has left the EU. On the other hand, it seems to make little sense for the UK to unravel EU legislation – doing so may undermine UK hauliers ability to access trade on the continent. Further, the smart tachograph is something that should help drive improved working practices and safety, something the UK government would surely want to back.

On going consultation with Europe

It’s worth remembering, amidst all the hype, that the UK remains within the EU and will do for another couple of years yet. That means the UK hauliers and the industry as a whole must not switch off to what’s happening on the continent, and remain actively engaged in consultation on emerging legislation that is being discussed in the EU already.

The two most notable consultations relate to Cabotage and Access to the Occupation of Road Transport Operator, with potential changes on the horizon in both cases that would affect UK operators.

The Road Haulage Association announced just a few days ago that they will publish their guidelines on what hauliers should do in preparation for Brexit early in the New Year. It’s clear that the industry as a whole is preparing for change, but it’s less clear what all the changes will be just yet.