Brussels, 7 December 2005
Driving and rest times for professional
drivers: Europe updates the social rules in road haulage
The European Parliament and the Council agreed yesterday on the draft
European legislation to improve driving times and rest periods for professional
drivers and step up checks on lorries. Drivers will have at least two full days
off every two weeks and a longer rest period each day. These new rules will
bring the practices of the different EU Member Statescloser together and
contribute to road safety. “Opening up new markets has to go hand in hand
with rules that apply to everyone to ensure fair working conditions. These
European social rules create new rights for workers and protect against social
dumping”, said Jacques Barrot, Commission Vice-President responsible for
There is a whole raft of European social legislation covering the various
modes of transport. In recent years, for example, Europe has strengthened the
maritime professions by adopting rules on training and working conditions. The
Commission’s proposals on certification of engine drivers and aircraft
cabin crew are also aimed at harmonising the social rules.
The new package concluded
yesterday complements the working time legislation and strengthens the social
rules in the road transport sector. Member States will still be free to apply
even stricter rules in the case of road transport carried out entirely within
their own territory, but they will not be allowed to fall short of the minimum
rules laid down in the European legislation. This amounts to a major social
advance in certain countries and will serve to prevent social dumping.
The package brings in an obligatory minimum daily rest of 9 hours for drivers
(instead of the present 8 hours) and an obligatory rest of at least 45
consecutive hours every two weeks. This “weekend off” for
professional drivers, in the form of a real rest for two full days at least
every fortnight, is unknown in most Member States.
Another measure is the reduction of maximum driving time for professional
drivers. At present they can drive for up to 74 hours a week. When this
instrument comes into force, no professional driver in Europe will be allowed to
drive for more than 56 hours a week. Several Member States will have to review
their legislation to incorporate this social advance. It complements the
legislation already in force since 23 March that limits the working time for
professional drivers to an average of 48 hours a week over a four-month
The draft legislation provides that it will be the drivers’ employers
(sharing liability with the shippers) and no longer drivers themselves who will
be held responsible in the case of infringement. The fault will no longer lie
with the hard-pressed drivers. All the players involved will have to bear their
share of the responsibility.
One Member State will be able to penalise infringements committed in another
Member State. This extraterritoriality of penalties and prosecutions is a major
innovation. With the introduction of the more accurate and tamper-proof digital
tachograph, it will be
possible for inspectors to check drivers’ driving times over the previous
28 days and to take the vehicle off the road immediately in the case of a
These new rules will be accompanied by a gradual increase in the number of
checks from 1% to 3% of days worked by drivers as well as a tripling of the
number of operations carried out jointly by Member States. The checks should
serve to verify that the social rules are being applied and enable action
against ‘cowboy hauliers’ who put their drivers and European
citizens at risk. They are a means of ensuring fair competition in Europe.
To this end, besides the minimum requirements as regards training and
equipment, an electronic information exchange system will be set up to
facilitate cooperation between the national authorities responsible for carrying
out the checks.
The new legislative package will now have to be approved separately by each
institution (Council and Parliament) before it is published in the Official
Journal and enters into force throughout the EU.
1. Objective of the proposals of the Commission
- Regulation: the regulation aims to simplify, clarify and update the
current 1985 Regulation on driving times and rest periods of professional
drivers (goods and passengers) and render it more easily enforced.
- Directive: the directive updates the current 1988 Directive on
minimum checks. It aims to increase the quantity and enhance quality of checks,
promote greater cooperation between enforcement authorities and establish a
common view of serious infringements.
2 . Sensitivities
and political importance
These two proposals, the Regulation dating from October 2001, the Directive
from October 2003, have become a closely linked package and were discussed at
the same time in the conciliation. The dossier is highly sensitive as the entry
into force of both legislative instruments will have significant consequences
for the transport sector, not only within the Union, but also outside the Union,
where negotiations will now start to align the equivalent United
Nations/Economic Council of Europe agreement, the
AETR. This agreement has
been ratified by all Member States and most other European countries, including
Russia and Turkey. The impact will therefore be extensive.
3. New Gains (see also attached table)
Some of the key gains of the new Regulation include:
- A clear weekly driving time limit of 56 hours – the current
Regulation has an ambiguous wording which means that driving time could be up to
74 hours per week, if not more.
- Breaks will be more frequent: under the current system, the 45 minute
break can be split into three periods of 15 minutes. It has been legally
possible to drive almost 9 hours with only 15 minutes rest. Breaks will now be
split in a way that ensures that this does not happen.
- Daily rest simplified and social progress achieved: Daily rest can
currently be split into three separate periods, one of which must be a minimum
of 8 hours. In future, it can only be split into two periods of at least 3 hours
plus at least 9 hours. The minimum daily rest is therefore raised by one hour
- Regular weekly rest periods: the driver now has the right to a
weekend rest (45 hours) at least once every fortnight, which can be easily
checked on the road and at the premises of the undertaking.
- Uniform approach to interpreting and applying the Regulation: a new
committee comprising enforcement officers from the Member States, along with the
social partners at European level, will advise the Commission on deciding on a
common approach to applying the rules; in addition, new precise definitions are
included to clarify the text.
- Extraterritoriality of sanctions: this is a novelty in jurisdiction,
one welcomed by enforcement officers. Up until now, enforcement officers could
only sanction those infringements committed on their national territory or at
best by their own nationals abroad. Now no matter where the infringement is
committed, an inspector at a roadside check can sanction it.
- Co-liability of the whole transport chain: this principle recognises
that operators are often the weak link in the transport chain, and can often be
put under undue pressure, particularly by shippers, to drive to impossible
schedules that cause them to infringe the rules. The provision is already in the
new sectoral working time directive and is now extended to all the Community
- Common range of sanctions available to enforcement staff: a common
range of sanctions is set out which each Member State must make available to its
inspectors. This also includes the power to immobilise vehicles if the
infringement detected means that to let the driver continue would be a road
Key gains of the new Directive include
- Increase in minimum percentage of checks from 1% to 3% of days
worked: this will mean a significant improvement in the visibility of
checks both at the roadside and on the premises, as well as a major investment
in enforcement activity. Also, whenever it is found that the majority of checks
(over 90%) are made on vehicles equipped with digital tachographs, and in any
case after 2012, the Commission may consider raising the minimum percentage of
checks to 4%.
- Checks at the roadside can be more extensive: currently checks may be
made of the current week’s records and the day in the previous week that
the driver drove. In future, and in line with the introduction of the digital
tachograph, and the personal driver card which stores up to 28 days of data,
inspectors may look back up to 28 days from 1 January 2008 to determine if
infringements have been committed. Drivers must either carry their card or 28
days worth of records.
- The focus of checks will be primarily at the premises of
undertakings: in future at least 50% of the minimum percentage of checks
must take place at the premises. As this is where inspections can be more
thorough, with all the relevant data to hand, the emphasis is placed on this
type of check.
- Drive to enhance the quality of enforcement: the Directive stipulates
that inspectors should be well trained and supplied with a common minimum list
of equipment. Member States are obliged to draw up and implement a coherent
national enforcement strategy, for which they may designate a body to coordinate
the actions of the enforcement agencies concerned. The anti- discrimination
clause has been strengthened and a more comprehensive statistical return to the
- Enhanced cooperation promoted: joint checking operations are trebled
from two to six per year; joint training exchanges between Member State
inspectors are to be held at least once per year; information exchange on
non-resident offenders to be promoted. A designated coordinating body within a
Member State is to act as a contact point for enforcement issues when dealing
with other Member States and the Commission.
- Best practice promoted: a new committee comprising Member State
enforcement officer representatives as well as the social partners at European
level is created to look at:
- Facilitating dialogue between industry and enforcement authorities;
- Coherence of approach between enforcement authorities;
- Best practice in enforcement;
- Alignment of risk rating systems for companies so that checks can be better
- Common format electronic data exchange systems - these can be developed and
promoted primarily but not exclusively through the committee or any body the
Commission may designate, such as EuroControl Route (Transport inspectors) or
TISPOL (Road safety police network);
- The elements to be checked at the roadside and on the premises - may be
updated to reflect best practice;
- Standard equipment list – may also be updated to reflect best
- Statistics to be collected may be further clarified.
- Classification of infringements: through the new committee the
Commission may now set guidelines for a common classification of infringements.
Not only will this clarify for industry what are commonly recognised as serious
infringements, it will also help focus enforcement efforts on essential issues.
The Commission has already indicated in a declaration that it will take as
its basis for discussion the serious infringements contained in its initial
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the
Council on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on
minimum conditions for the implementation of Directive 2002/15/EC and Council
Regulations (EEC) Nos 3820/85 and 3821/85 concerning social legislation relating
to road transport activities.
 On-board device which
records drivers’ driving and rest periods.
 The European Agreement
concerning the work of crews of vehicles engaged in International road