Financial standing levels rise for commercial vehicle operators

Following a drop in the value of the pound, standard operator licence holders will see the financial standing level rise from £7,850 to £7,950 for the first vehicle and from £4,350 to £4,400 for each additional vehicle on their operator licence.

Financial standing levels for restricted licence holders have been frozen again, staying at £3,100 for the first vehicle and £1,700 for each additional vehicle on the operator licence; however, it is anticipated that a consultation as to the financial levels on restricted licences will be held early next year.

It is not clear yet whether these levels will continue to be based upon the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro after Britain leaves the EU, but given the levels have fluctuated by almost £2,000 over the last few years, perhaps the logical decision would be to consult with the industry and set a fair level which is acceptable for both the regulator and the operator.

For further information contact Joanne Witheford or Vikki Woodfine

New in-cab weekly rest rules come into force

As of today, the new weekly rest rules will be enforced nationwide by the DVSA as they crackdown on weekly rest taken outside of formal rest areas.

The new rules specifically concern drivers who take their full weekly rest periods in their cab in public lay-bys, on or close to public roads, on motorway slip roads or simply anywhere other than a service station or a truck stop.

Current rules

Article 8(6) and 8(8) of EU Regulation 561/2006, introduced in 2007, provides that:

  • in any two consecutive weeks, a driver shall take at least two regular weekly rest periods or one regular weekly rest period and one reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours;
  • however, the reduction shall be compensated by an equivalent period of rest taken en bloc before the end of the third week following the week in question. A weekly rest period shall start no later than the end of six 24-hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period;
  • where a driver chooses to do this, daily rest periods and reduced weekly rest periods away from base may be taken in a vehicle if it has suitable sleeping facilities for each driver and the vehicle is stationary.

In February 2017, however, European Court of Justice (ECJ) advocate general Evgeni Tanchev provided the opinion that drivers were in breach of the weekly rest rules if they take their weekly rest period in a vehicle’s cab.

Some countries, such as France, are enforcing this interpretation of the rule strongly and fines of up to €30,000 (£26,000) can be imposed if a driver is found sleeping in his cab at the side of the road.

The UK is enforcing the rule that a driver’s full weekly rest period is not taken in the cab of a vehicle through DVSA sanctions.

What are the sanctions?

From today, drivers and operators found in breach of the rules may face:

  • Financial penalty deposits (for non-UK drivers) or fixed penalty notices of £300;
  • Prohibitions on the driver until the full weekly rest is properly taken (drivers can be required to start their rest all over again); and
  • The reporting of operators to their licensing authorities, such as the Traffic Commissioners, including similar authorities in other EU states.

It is important to note that a daily rest and reduced weekly rest period can still be taken in the cab.

Easier said than done?

It is without doubt that the current infrastructure for drivers who wish to access suitable facilities of consistent standard is poor. Under EU Law, rest facilities should be located every 100km across the European road network by 2030, but what about now?

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “Rest facilities for HGV drivers are scarce and in order to comply with their working hours they need somewhere safe and secure to rest. The authorities are duty bound to tackle this urgent problem“.

It is arguable that in some cases, the standard of a driver’s cab may be better than that of a cheap motel or B&B and so it is inevitable that some drivers and operators may ignore the provisions and risk the fine. Further, when considering profit margins in the industry are notoriously small, an operator who has spent money ensuring his drivers have the best specification of cab for taking their full weekly rest periods may be unwilling to then spend money ensuring their drivers’ accommodation is that of a high standard.

If you are issued with a prohibition notice/fixed penalty notice or wish for advice surrounding the weekly rest rules, contact Joanne Witheford or Vikki Woodfine.

Calais Crisis Continues

In a desperate attempt to reach the UK migrants have turned to extreme violence resulting in many lorry drivers being worried for their safety when on the roads in France.

Lorry drivers are being faced with the potential risk of being attacked with weapons and, in a more recent case, lorries being set on fire as migrants riot over the conditions and struggle to reach the UK.

This week the UK reached an agreement with the French government to build a “wall” to prevent migrants climbing onto lorries in Calais.

A four metre high wall which will be erected either side of the main road for 1km, is already under construction costing the UK authorities over £2million.

However, charities have expressed their concern that the wall will not prevent migrants but will consequently be a danger to them.  Yolaine Bernard, Vice President of the Salam Aid Organisation has told papers, “It’s not going to change a thing.  These people will still try and scale the wall and it will just result in more of them being injured.”

Lorry drivers themselves have said the new concrete wall will do little with Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association stating that the wall is a waste of money and it will simply ‘shift the problem further down the road’.

The situation for both lorry drivers and migrants is dreadful and more needs to be done to prevent this Calais crisis from continuing.

What is your opinion on the ‘Great Wall of Calais’?

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Operation Stack lorry park consultations begin…

A six-week consultation to cover the design of the new M20 Stanford West lorry park started last Friday, 12th August.

The £250m park is being built as a solution to the chaos many drivers were faced with last summer on the M20 due to the disruption to cross-channel services.

The lorry park at Stanford West was the chosen site following a consultation between December 2015 – January 2016 despite many residents’ complaints of the sites impact to the surrounding area.

Highways England has attempted to reassure residents and businesses that it will do its best to minimise any impact to the area that the site may cause.

Project Director, Adrian Sheppard has said, “Following our consultation earlier this year we have been working hard to refine our plans and are now keen to hear what people think about these.  I encourage anyone who would like to understand more or ask questions to visit us at one of the public exhibitions we are holding.”

It is hoped that the Operation Stack lorry park will minimise the impact on the M20 and the regions roads by offering parking for up to 3,600 lorries during disruption.

What are your views on the Stanford West lorry park?

It is important that hauliers affected by Operation Stack use this opportunity to have their say, either directly or via their trade associations.

Details of the consultation will be available from 6am on Friday 12th August 2016 on the government’s consultation page or by searching “Management of Freight Through Kent” on the website.

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Brexit: What next for the road transport industry?

On 24 June 2016 it was decided that UK would seek to exit the European Union (“EU”). Immediately following that decision, we saw David Cameron resign as Prime Minister, the FTSE 100 and pound plunge and commentary coming from Europe’s leaders talking of their shock and disappointment.

Now we must think about what this means for hauliers and where things go from here.

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New proposals will make example of HGV drivers using mobile phones

On 21 December 2015, the Department for Transport (“DfT”) made a new road safety statement which set out the government’s vision, values and priorities for improving the safety of Britain’s roads. At the top of the list were proposals for harsher penalties for dangerous in-car mobile phone use, which had been identified by the RAC as one of their greatest concerns.

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Calais Troubles Rumble On

As the Calais crisis continues in what is turning out to be an awful summer for international hauliers crossing the channel between England and France we now hear that further efforts are being made between French and UK authorities to help to tackle the issues. However, what troubles us is that the headlines seem to focus on UK Police going to France to help tackle crimes of people smuggling. Is the whole point being missed yet again here?

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