The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has severely affected the transport and logistics industry's ability to continue under the financial strain. The response to the pandemic by communities, companies and governments has impacted every individual's way of life, as well as the lives of our local, regional and global transportation systems. However, with the recent relaxation of lockdown rules, businesses can start to consider getting back to work.
In our June 2020 update, we consider:
- Ending relaxation of driver hours;
- Changes to road transport rules;
- Restarting of heavy vehicles testing;
- Resumption of Traffic Commissioner hearings;
- Restarting driving lessons, theory tests and driving tests;
- New powers granted to Councils to protect cyclists;
- Annual safety statistics published by European Transport Safety Council; and
- Proposals to increase policing of the roads.
Ending relaxation of driver hours
"We are urging government to continue the relaxation as the nation emerges from lockdown to support economic and societal recovery from COVID-19."1
Due to the exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak and the unprecedented pressures on local and national supply chains, throughout the end of March to mid-June, the Department for Transport (DfT) temporarily relaxed the EU and GB drivers' hours rules for drivers delivering food, non-food (personal care, household paper and cleaning) and over the counter pharmaceuticals when undertaking certain journeys2 .
Following a recent review of the current evidence the DfT has decided not to extend the relaxation of the GB drivers' hours rules; which ended at 23:59 on Sunday 14 June 2020. The earlier relaxation of the EU drivers' hours rules ended on 31 May 20203 .
The change in drivers' hours rules comes despite the Freight Transport Association (FTA) calls for extended delivery times to be maintained as non-essential retail outlets have opened from 15 June and the Government's active travel plans are implemented by councils4 .
The trade body argues that continued flexibility in delivery times will be essential to meet soaring demand for products while respecting social distancing rules.
Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at FTA, explained:
"With 'non-essential retail' units permitted to open next week, we expect to see demand for products increase significantly; continued flexible delivery hours will allow logistics businesses to stock shops safely and efficiently while keeping up with demand. And, with Government plans to reallocate road space to cyclist and walkers, extended delivery hours will be needed due to restricted access."
On the road again- Update on changes to road transport rules
The EU has made temporary changes to the road transport rules that apply to operators and drivers of heavy goods and public service vehicles, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the road transport sector.
Driver Qualification Card (DQC) validity5
1 DQCs expiring before 31 August 2020
The validity of DQCs that expire between 1 February 2020 and 31 August 2020 has been extended for 7 months.
If the expiry date on the card is in this period, drivers must add 7 months to that date to calculate the new expiry date. The extension will be applied automatically, so drivers do not need to take any action but must continue to carry their DQC.
2. DQCs expiring in September 2020.
On 31 March 2020 the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) gave notice that, subject to review, enforcement action would not be taken against drivers from 1 September 2020 to 30 September 2020 if their DQC expired during this period. This would have allowed up to an additional 29 days to complete periodic CPC training, due to COVID-19 disruption.
As there are now enough periodic training courses available, this notice has been rescinded and enforcement action will be carried out from September in relation to DQCs expiring after 31 August. If a driver's DQC expires from 1 September 2020, they must not drive until it is renewed.
1 Calibrations and inspections due before 31 August 2020
All tachograph calibration and inspection certificates which are listed as expiring between 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020, are extended by 6 months from the date the calibration was originally due.
All tachograph calibration certificates expiring from 1 September 2020 must be renewed as usual. A special notice providing further information will be published in due course.
2. Tachograph card renewal
From 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020, drivers who apply to renew their tachograph card no later than 15 days before their card is due to expire, can continue to drive until they receive a new card.
Drivers who apply for a replacement tachograph card within 7 days of their card being damaged, malfunctioning, lost or stolen, can continue to drive until they receive a new card.
In these situations, drivers with expired cards must record their hours in the same way as when their driver card is damaged, malfunctioning, or is lost or stolen6 .
Operator Financial Standing Update
The maximum grace period a Traffic Commissioner may give an operator to demonstrate renewed financial standing following a finding that the requirement has not been met has been extended from 6 months to 12 months. This only applies to assessments of inadequate financial standing made between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner will issue an update to the existing Statutory Guidance and Statutory Directions on how this may be applied in due course.
Driver Attestation Update
The validity of driver attestations that expire from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020 have been extended for 6 months.
1. Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Freight Transport Association https://www.commercialfleet.org/news/latest-news/2020/06/10/flexibility-in-delivery-times-crucial-as-lockdown-is-lifted
Originally published June 2020.
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