Driving and rest time laws for truck drivers relaxed to maintain supply chains

Drivers can stay behind the wheel for 56 hours per week instead of the previous 45

The changes were announced by the Road Safety Authority  and the Department of Transport on Tuesday, describing them as ‘temporary and urgent’. Photograph: iStock

The changes were announced by the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport on Tuesday, describing them as ‘temporary and urgent’. Photograph: iStock

 

Truck drivers are to be allowed stay on the road for longer periods of time due to the threat of Covid-19 on food and other essential supply chains.

Strict EU laws on driving and rest times are to be temporary relaxed. The move will mean drivers can stay behind the wheel for 56 hours per week instead of the previous 45 hour cap.

Rest periods demanded under law are also being altered to provide flexibility should drivers encounter delays on journeys.

The changes were announced by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport on Tuesday, describing them as “temporary and urgent” and which have come about because of the impact the Omicron variant is having on the operation of heavy goods vehicles.

“Crucially, these relaxation measures maintain a balance between driver welfare, operator flexibility, road safety and minimising disruption to supply chains,” said Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton.

“These arrangements will be kept under continual review. These steps are being taken to ensure key supply chains for food and essential goods are kept open. I want to stress however, that driver safety and other road users’ safety must not be compromised at any stage.”

The temporary derogation will remain in place until the end of January.

The Department insisted that despite the changes, driver safety and that of other road users must not be compromised.

“Drivers should not deviate from the rules if it jeopardises road safety nor should they be expected to drive whilst tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users,” it said.

The temporary rule change does not affect those relating to working time limits and the RSA said it will keep the situation under review in consultation with stakeholders.