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Driving time in the road transport sector

The Regulation lays down new and simpler provisions concerning driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers of lorries and buses. It defines the responsibilities of transport undertakings and drivers as well as possible exceptions. It contains provisions on the monitoring and evaluation of the Regulation, and on penalties in the event of infringements.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85.

SUMMARY

This Regulation shall apply to the carriage by road of goods by vehicles with a total mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes and to the transport by road of passengers by vehicles which are adapted for carrying more than nine persons.

Some vehicles which fall into these categories are, however, exempted from the Regulation, i.e.:

  • vehicles used for carrying passengers on regular services where the route covered by the service does not exceed 50 kilometers (these vehicles do not need to be equipped with a tachograph *, but this Regulation makes provision for controls on the basis of service timetables and duty rosters);
  • vehicles with a maximum speed not exceeding 40 kilometres per hour;
  • vehicles belonging to the armed services, civil defence services, fire services, and forces responsible for maintaining public order;
  • vehicles used in humanitarian aid, emergencies or rescue operations;
  • breakdown vehicles operating within a 100 km radius;
  • vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development;
  • vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes used for the non-commercial carriage of goods;
  • vehicles which have an historical status and are used for non-commercial purposes.

European Union (EU) Member States can also decide to grant other exemptions subject to individual conditions on their own territory. These are for vehicles:

  • belonging to the public authorities provided they do not compete with private transport undertakings;
  • used by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery undertakings within a 100 km radius;
  • with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes within a 50 kilometre radius used by universal service providers or for carrying materials for the driver's use in the course of their main activity;
  • not exceeding 7.5 tonnes and propelled by gas or electricity within a 50 km radius;
  • operating on small islands which are not linked to the national territory;
  • used for driving instruction and examination;
  • used in connection with activities relating to services of general interest, radio and television broadcasting, road maintenance and certain controls;
  • for the non-commercial carriage of 10 to 17 passengers;
  • for the specialised transport of circus and funfair equipment;
  • for mobile projects, for use as an educational facility;
  • used for milk collection and the return of milk intended for animal feed;
  • specialised for transporting money and/or valuables;
  • carrying animal waste not intended for human consumption;
  • used exclusively in ports or railway terminals;
  • used for the carriage of animals between farms, markets and slaughterhouses within a radius of 50 km.

Drivers and drivers' mates must be at least 18, except in certain circumstances for trainee drivers' mates for whom the minimum age is 16.

Area of application

The Regulation shall apply to all cross-border and international transport carried out exclusively within the territory of the EU, or between the EU, Switzerland and the countries party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA).

The EU is a signatory of the European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) concluded in 1970 under the framework of the International Labour Organization. The scope of this agreement is wider than the current Regulation. It also applies to vehicles registered in third countries which are not contracting parties to the AETR when they travel in the area covered by the agreement.

Driving time

Driving time is subject to a number of rules, i.e.:

  • the daily driving time * should not exceed nine hours. Twice a week, this may be extended to ten hours;
  • the weekly driving time * shall not exceed 56 hours;
  • the total driving time during any two consecutive weeks shall not exceed 90 hours;
  • the driver should record as other work on the tachograph any work time during which he is not driving, as well as any time spent driving a vehicle not falling within the scope of this Regulation and the journey time on a ferry or train when he has no access to a bunk or couchette;
  • after driving for four and a half hours a driver shall take an uninterrupted break * of not less than 45 minutes or of 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes over the same period;
  • a compulsory weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (regular weekly rest period) or 24 hours (reduced weekly rest period);
  • if, over the course of two consecutive weeks, a driver can take only one reduced weekly rest period, the reduction shall be compensated for by an equivalent period of rest taken en bloc before the end of the third week;
  • between two weekly rest periods *, a driver may not take more than 3 reduced daily rest periods *;
  • where a driver chooses to do this, daily rest periods and reduced weekly rest periods may be taken in a vehicle. On the condition that the vehicle is stationary and has suitable sleeping facilities;
  • when a driver takes a rest period where the vehicle is transported by ferry or train, that period may be interrupted not more than twice for a maximum of one hour in total. The driver should also have access to a bunk or couchette.

Liabilities

Transport undertakings or other bodies offering the same service must ensure that their drivers are able to comply with Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on the tachograph:

  • they may not award bonuses related to distances travelled or the amount of goods carried if that payment is such as to endanger road safety.
  • they must ensure that transport time schedules are in line with this Regulation and that data from digital tachographs are downloaded at the right time and kept for at least 12 months.

Transport undertakings shall be liable for infringements committed by drivers of the undertaking. Except in cases where it cannot reasonably be held responsible, such as when a driver working for more than one transport undertaking has not provided sufficient information for them to be able to comply with this Regulation.

Exceptions

A Member State may:

  • after approval by the Commission, authorise exceptions for some transport operations in, from or to areas of its own territory with a population density of less than five persons per square kilometre;
  • grant an exception for a period not exceeding 30 days in urgent cases and for transport operations carried out entirely on their territory;
  • subject to approval by the Commission, grant an exemption in exceptional circumstances for transport operations carried out entirely on their territory.

The driver may not comply with the Regulation so as to enable the vehicle to reach a suitable stopping place. However, he must indicate the reason for his journey manually on the record sheet or on a printout from the digital tachograph. In addition, under certain conditions, a driver carrying out an occasional international passenger transport service may push back his weekly rest period of 12 consecutive days, starting from the previous regular rest period.

Control procedures and sanctions

Member States shall lay down penalties in order to ensure compliance with the Regulation on their territory. They may:

  • impose financial penalties on transport undertakings which have committed infringements;
  • immobilise a vehicle if the infringement is of a kind that is liable to endanger road safety;
  • compel the driver to take a daily rest period;
  • withdraw, suspend or restrict an undertaking's licence or a driver's driving licence;

In order to ensure that a driver is not penalised twice for the same infringement, Member States must provide the driver with written evidence of the penalty, which the driver is obliged to keep and produce on request. In addition, Member States shall endeavour to remain informed about infringements committed by non-residents and penalties imposed on its residents for ones committed in other Member States.

Background

The Regulation aims to improve road safety and working conditions in the road transport sector, a sector subject to competitive pressures. To this end, the Regulation lays down simpler and more effective provisions, replacing those in the former Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85.

Key terms used in the act
  • Tachograph: the equipment recording the driving time.
  • Daily driving time: total accumulated driving time between two daily rest periods, or between a daily and weekly rest period.
  • Weekly driving time: total accumulated driving time between 00.00 on Monday and 24.00 on Sunday.
  • Break: period during which a driver may recuperate. During this period, he may neither drive nor carry out any other work.
  • Rest: any uninterrupted period during which a driver may freely dispose of his time.
  • Daily rest period: compulsory rest period during each 24-hour period (30 hours for multi-manning), which must last at least 11 hours (regular daily rest period) or 9 hours (reduced daily rest period).
  • Weekly rest period: compulsory rest period, which must start no later than at the end of six 24-hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period and last at least 45 hours (regular weekly rest period) or 24 hours (reduced weekly rest period).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006

11.4.2007, with the exception of Article 10(5), Article 26(3) and (4), and Article 27, which enter into force on 1.5.2006

-

OJ L 102 of 11.4.2006

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009

4.12.2009, with the exception of a partial application see Article 31

-

OJ L 300 of 14.11.2009

RELATED ACTS

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 of the Council of 20 December 1985 on recording equipment in road transport [Official Journal L 370 of 31.12.1985].

Last updated: 27.10.2010
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