EU Drivers’ Hours

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A true record can only be provided if you keep a true record! …… Every vocational driver who is working under EU drivers’ hours rules (EC)561/2006 must be able to understand fully what he/she can and can’t do when driving for a living and using a vehicle that comes within the scope of the rules.  The best way of doing this is to read through and copy the information provided by DVSA.  

Whether the vehicle is fitted with an analogue or a digital tachograph the rules are the same when it comes to following and recording the drivers’ hours rules. So, the first thing to do when beginning any daily driving period (i.e. a working day that will involve driving an in-scope vehicle at some time during that day) is to begin the record of your duties.

If you arrive for work and you’re not immediately assigned to a vehicle fitted with a tachograph, or you carry out some other duties away from a vehicle fitted with a tachograph, you must still keep a record.  Work, other than driving an in-scope vehicle, should be recorded as ‘other work’ when you do begin using a vehicle fitted with an analogue or digital tachograph. So, any type of work activity that you carry out when a tachograph isn’t available to you at the time should be noted down and added to the tachograph record as ‘other work’ as soon as you do have access to a tachograph.

What this means is that, for instance, you arrive at work at 07.00 and you’re asked to use the company parts van to go and pick up some spare parts in it, before being assigned a commercial vehicle. Although technically and physically you are indeed driving the van, this time should be recorded as ‘other work’. This is because the vehicle comes outside of the scope of the EU drivers’ hours, due to it being below 3.5 tonne gvw, so the driving of the van is not recognised within the record keeping requirements as ‘driving’, but it is expected to be calculated as ‘other work’ when you do begin recording your daily driving period using a tachograph. So, if you assigned an ‘in-scope’ HGV at 09.30 you must then begin recording your daily driving period (working day) using the vehicles tachograph, but firstly manually entering a recorded period of ‘other work’ for the period 07.00 until 09.30 onto the tachograph record.

Similarly, it must always be remembered that any type of work or work related activity must be recorded as ‘other work’ when a tachograph becomes available (i.e. when you are assigned a vehicle fitted with a tachograph).  So, if you are working in a warehouse, workshop or office for a few hours after or before being assigned to a vehicle fitted with a tachograph you must legally record that period as ‘other work’ to ensure that you are keeping and can make available a true record of your daily driving period (your working day).

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If you are required by your employer to attend a training session (i.e. a module of approved Driver CPC periodic training) then that time should be added to your drivers’ hours record as ‘other work’ as well.

Do you carry out a walk round check at the start of your daily driving period (working day)?  Every vehicle (which includes any connected trailer) that you are assigned to should be checked over for safety and compliance with the construction and use regulations at least once within every 24 hour period by a responsible person.  The recommendation from the Traffic Commissioners, DVSA and Truck UK is that a vehicle (and any connected trailer) be checked over before it’s used by a driver.  Even if you used the vehicle the day before or someone else has already taken it out today and they didn’t report any defects it’s always worth giving it the ‘once over’ for peace of mind and……if something does go wrong it doesn’t matter who else checked the vehicle over……if you’re using it when the defects detected ….. it’s you that is in the frame!

What we are interested in here is a true record of your daily driving period (your working day as a truck driver).

So, what’s the first thing you should do when you are assigned to a vehicle fitted with a tachograph and you’re to work under EU drivers hours rules?  Begin recording your duties using the tachograph!

It’s hopefully part of your nature as a professional driver to be visually scanning down the side or front/back of the truck as you approach it, but even if you see something that looks a bit odd just keep a mental note then, aim straight for the cab, open the door, climb in and either insert an analogue tachograph chart or digital tachograph driver card into the tachograph and make sure the activity mode is set to ‘other work’. Then, get hold of your walk round check sheet, pen torch and whatever else you need and check the truck (and any connected trailer) over thoroughly and effectively…………..while at the same time knowing that you are providing a true tachograph record of your daily driving period (your working day).

There are times as stated above when you can make manual entries on the tachograph record, but it most definitely isn’t acceptable to put a manual entry on the rear of an analogue tachograph chart showing ‘other work’ or entering a manual entry on a digital tachograph for a period of ‘other work’ to show that you carried out a walk round check. This is because the regulations state that if a tachograph is available it must be used to record your daily driving period (working day). Therefore, as the walk round check relates to a vehicle that is fitted with a tachograph it is hopefully obvious that the thing to do is use the tachograph to record this period of your day!

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A true record means recording what you are actually doing……This means thinking about what activity you are going to carry out before you carry it out! By this I mean if you are getting out of the cab because you are going to fill up the truck with diesel then the tachograph activity mode must be set to ‘other work’ as filling up with diesel is a work activity.  If you are leaving the cab to supervise or physically load or unload the vehicle then you must set the activity mode on the tachograph to ‘other work’ because what you are about to do is a work activity.

You should only be recording a ‘break’ period when you intend to take a break from your work activities during the daily driving period (the working day) and you should not be leaving the activity mode set on ‘break’ all the time, as your record will be false and this could lead to you being issued with a fixed penalty notice at the roadside and the operator facing prosecution for allowing you to keep an incorrect record.

You need to be aware that the authorities raised just under £7.5 million in fixed penalties within the first two years of the introduction of graduated fixed penalties, with almost half of that huge amount collected from UK based drivers! Since then the level of penalties has been increased and the amount of penalties issued by DVSA Traffic and Vehicle Examiners at the roadside is becoming frightening.

What’s more, it is an obligation entered into by every goods vehicle operator that they will inform the Traffic Commissioner within 28 days every time a driver of one of their specified vehicles is issued with a conviction, which includes a graduated fixed penalty that is accepted and paid for by a driver.

So, it’s up to operator’s to make sure that everyone that is involved in their business is fully aware of the obligations entered into when the licence was granted and the drivers’ are the most important.