Drivers are in breach of the EU weekly rest rules if they take their regular 45-hour weekly rest inside their vehicles, according to the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Advocate General.
Article 8(6) of EU Regulation 561/2006 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 at the end of six 24-hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period.
Article 8(8) of the regulation stipulates that:
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.
An issue over weekly rest came before the Advocate General following a dispute between the Belgian authorities and a Belgian haulage company which contested the imposition of an €1800 fine for non-compliance with the prohibition on drivers taking their regular weekly rest periods inside their vehicles. The haulage company disputed the interpretation of Articles 8(6) and 8(8) as enshrined in Belgian national law, which assumes that, under EU Regulation 561/2006, a regular weekly rest period cannot be taken inside a vehicle. The haulage company claimed that such an interpretation breached the principle of legality in criminal proceedings and the Belgian authorities submitted the case to the ECJ for a ruling.
Advocate General’s opinion in the case
The Advocate General concluded that Articles 8(6) and 8(8) are to be interpreted as meaning that drivers cannot take their regular weekly rest periods inside their vehicles. He also found that Articles 8(6) and 8(8), read in conjunction with Article 19 of EU Regulation 561/2006, do not violate the principle of legality of criminal offences and penalties as enshrined in Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
The Advocate General noted that there are variations throughout the EU as to whether Articles 8(6) and 8(8) are to be interpreted as meaning that drivers may take their regular weekly rest periods inside their vehicles. However, he said that the reference to “daily rest periods” in Article 8(8), which covers both regular and reduced daily rest periods, alongside “reduced weekly rest periods”, strongly suggests that regular weekly rest periods are excluded from the Article’s scope.
In addition, the Advocate General stated that:
It would seem that, if the EU legislature intended to cover regular weekly rest periods as well as reduced weekly rest periods in Article 8(8), it would have used the term “weekly rest period” to encapsulate both. To interpret Article 8(8) as covering a regular weekly rest period would therefore make the wording of Article 8(8) illogical and superfluous. It would also be illogical to interpret Articles 8(6) and 8(8) as allowing a driver to spend regular weekly rest periods inside the vehicle under less stringent conditions than those that must be satisfied in the case of daily rest periods and reduced weekly rest periods.
The Advocate General maintained that an interpretation of Article 8(8) to the effect that a driver cannot take his or her regular weekly rest period inside a vehicle did not contravene the regulation’s definition of a “rest” by limiting the means by which a driver may freely dispose of his or her time outside of the work environment. The fact that Article 8(8) expressly provides for daily rest and reduced weekly rest periods implies that drivers cannot then spend regular weekly rest periods inside their vehicles.
In summary, the Advocate General proposed that Articles 8(6) and 8(8) should be interpreted to mean that drivers cannot take their regular weekly rest periods, as referred to in Article 8(6), inside their vehicles.
His opinion supports the enforcement measures taken by Belgian authorities in 2014, against companies forcing their drivers to spend the 45 hours’ rest in the vehicle cab. France adopted the same course of action as Belgium, at about the same time. The French and Belgian initiatives to enforce weekly rest provisions prompted considerable protests by hauliers in 2014 and 2015.
It is almost certain that the ECJ will follow the Advocate General’s opinion.
Previously, if you were caught speeding the minimum fine was £100 and three penalty points on your licence, the maximum fine was £1,000, or £2,500 if you were caught on the motorway. Speeding fines have now been split into “Bands”, depending upon which band your offence enters will impact on the fine and penalty points awarded. After April 24 2017, the cap of £2,500 will remain, but offenders can be charged up to 175 per cent of their weekly income if they are caught speeding.
The minimum fine of £100 and three points will remain.
A Band C speeding fine means that anyone exceeding the speed limit by more than 21 mph, travelling at 51mph or above in a 30mph limit for example will face a fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income, 6 penalty points on their driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 56 days. Any driver disqualified for 56 days or more must apply for a new licence before being able to start driving again.
For anyone earning £30,000 a year, a speeding fine equivalent to 150% of their weekly income means handing over a minimum of £865 which is a significant increase on the previous typical fine for such an offence.
You might receive a Band B speeding fine for doing between 11-21 mph over the limit, 41-50mph in a 30mph limit for example. In these circumstances drivers would face a fine equivalent to 100% of their weekly income. Using our £30,000 example this would equate to a fine of £576 and 4 penalty points on their driving licence, or disqualification from driving for up to 28 days.
The lowest band is a Band A fine, this would be issued if you were caught up to 10 mph over the limit, between 31-40 in a 30mph limit for example. Drivers can expect to receive a fine equivalent to 50% of your weekly income and 3 penalty points on their driving licence. This lower band still means a fine in the region of £288 using our £30,000 annual income driver. This is a significant increase on fines previously issued which averaged £288 in 2015.
The change in the level of fines is part of an effort to change attitudes to speeding throughout the UK and improve road safety.
The CPC Link are pleased to announce that another new course has been added to their list of available courses for use by Members as Periodic Driver CPC Training.
At the request of its Members The CPC Link made an application for a new course and today we are pleased to announce that JAUPT and the DVSA have given approval for a one day refresher course on the truck mounted category of MEWP. This now means that drivers of such vehicles can utilise industry training as Diver CPC Periodic Training rather than having to take additional time away from the workplace.
The original application was for both mobile as well as static types of MEWP, the idea being that delivery drivers working for MEWP rental companies could utilise the training. Unfortunately, this was refused by JAUPT and the DVSA as they did not feel that it came within the scope of the EU Directive (2003/59/EC) despite evidence to show that drivers of such vehicles are often required to operate MEWP’s during the loading and offloading process on the public highway as part of their daily duties.
It is fair to say that JAUPT and the DVSA are taking a more reserved view of what is, and is not acceptable for use as Periodic Driver CPC Training. Courses such as the industrial counterbalance forklift will generally receive approval whereas the telehandler type of forklift or any other type of plant operator refresher course will not receive approval.
The CPC Link have been assured that this is the case for all applicants so if your training provider says anything different then it might be worth checking with JAUPT before handing your money over! Drivers attending courses that are not JAUPT approved risk having the hours removed and therefore potentially driving illegally leaving themselves and their employer, if applicable, open to prosecution.
The new course is available with immediate effect. If you wish to know more about the course or would like to find out how you can deliver it to your staff, please contact us here.