Under the current extreme weather conditions, Professional Drivers are given the very onerous responsibility of making critical safety and judgement decisions. While the rule book should not be thrown out the window, Professional Drivers will find themselves in situations that may require a deviation from the normal regulations. Less experienced road users will find these extreme weather conditions very challenging and Professional Drivers will be paying particular attention to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and the elderly as these groups need to be given extra room and time to get about.
For the Professional Driver, it’s ‘Safety First’ at all times. Well rested and well prepared for all eventualities are essential to getting through these difficult and demanding times. Professional Drivers will come under pressure to make up for missed deliveries which will include the delivery of essential supplies for hospitals, fuel deliveries, supermarket restocking of essential food supplies and many other essential deliveries and collections. Coach and Bus Drivers will be working to get passengers to their destinations. However Professional Drivers must use their training and skills to put their safety and the safety of all road users at the forefront of their decisions. TheRSA have issued the following guidelines in relation to driver’s hours regulations
Enforcement of Driving and Resting Time Rules During the Current Inclement Weather
In light of the recent weather warnings and the potential impact on Heavy Good Vehicles (HGV) operations, the Road Safety Authority will adopt a pragmatic approach when reviewing drivers hours compliance with driving and resting time periods during the course of roadside inspection and at premises inspections. During inspections, the history of the driver’s and operator overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed.
Appropriate arrangements must be in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers resulting from the current inclement weather. To assist with RSA inspections, Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or print-outs the reasons why they are exceeding the prescribed limits.
Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort.
HGV operators must put in place contingency measures to cater for emergency and urgent situations and this must be properly documented and retained for inspection. This should be agreed by operators and their drivers.
While the adverse weather conditions may impact on driving time, driver safety or other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
The Road Safety Authority is granting a temporary and limited relaxation of the driver’s hours rules in respect of vehicles being used for the distribution of the following:
- gritting, sand and stone chipping material to be used for gritting roads; and
- fuel oil, petroleum related products and domestic heating products.
The temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of the driver hours rules in respect of the above vehicles comes into immediate effect covering the period 28 February 2018 and 3 March 2018.
The rules are being relaxed as follows:-
- replacement of the driving time limit of 9 hours with 11 hours
- reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours; and
- lifting the weekly and fortnightly driving limit; and
- relaxation of the rules relating to working time.
The requirement to take breaks after 4½ hours driving remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced.