If you’re a lorry driver or haulier, you’ll surely be aware of how dangerous it is to drive if you’re tired. This is why the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is going to introduce new penalties, which could fine drivers for both new and old offences.
Daily Driving Limits
The maximum amount of driving that you are allowed to do in one working day is 10 hours. You cannot drive for more than four and a half hours without taking a break, which has to be at least 45 minutes.
You must keep records of your hours of work on a weekly record sheet, or use an EU-approved tachograph.
New Fines Will be Retrospective
Currently, the DVSA can only fine drivers for offences that are committed on the same day. However, with the introduction of new regulations, the agency will be able to issue fines for up to five historic offences at a time. As each fine could be as much as £300, this could see a lorry driver who has continued to flout rest regulations pay up to £1,500 during one roadside check.
While no exact date has been set for introducing these new retrospective fines, the DVSA claims that these regulations will be widely publicised so that the average lorry driver will be well aware of their existence.
New Fines for Inadequate Resting
As well as implementing fines for driving for too many hours, new fines will be introduced for lorry drivers who have not been resting.
Commercial drivers are required by law to take at least a 45-hour rest every two weeks. From 1 November 2017, those who are found taking this rest break in their vehicles could also face a fine of £300. According to the DVSA, the reason for this is that taking a break in your vehicle not only prevents you from resting properly, but can also cause a nuisance to local communities and other road users.
The DVSA claims that its traffic examiners will be checking lay-bys and residential areas in particular, as the highest number of complaints tend to come from these regions.
The Need for New Measures
While no one likes to put more pressure on a lorry driver’s shoulders by implementing additional regulations and fines, it is worth bearing in mind that accidents involving commercial vehicles do happen.
According to the DVSA and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, almost 25% of accidents involving lorries are considered ‘serious’ or fatal, while 40% of fatigue-related incidents involve commercial vehicles. In fact, tiredness accounts for one in five of all road accidents, and is responsible for up to 25% of all serious and fatal crashes.
While these fines may sound grim, the number of accidents on the road is even grimmer. With some luck, adhering to these fines will serve to provide greater protection to lorry drivers and other motorists in the coming months and years, which would be a very favourable outcome.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage loads with an available lorry driver in the right area. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.