Big Freeze: Transport restrictions relaxed

Restrictions on working time rules for lorry drivers have been relaxed in a bid to help get animal feed to snow-hit farms.

The Department for Transport announced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours and working time rules on Friday (8 January).

The relaxation would aid the distribution of animal feed from manufacturers to farms, due to the weather, it said.

The relaxation applies immediately and will run until 23.59 on Monday 11 January.

It applies only to drivers involved in the distribution of animal feed from animal feed manufacturers to farms.

For the drivers and work in question, the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules are now temporarily relaxed as follows:-

– Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 10 hours;

– Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours;

– Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limit (90 hours);

– Postponing the weekly rest requirement until 23:59 Monday 11 January 2010.

The weekly rest limit is the stage a driver has to take a minimum rest of 24 hours – with no compensatory rest required.

The requirement to take a 45 minute break after 4½ hours driving remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced.

The Agricultural Industries Confederation welcomed the decision to relax restrictions.

David Caffall, AIC chief executive, said: “This is a vital move that we have requested on the grounds of animal welfare.”

“The continued icy weather and ungritted roads in many rural areas have led to our members making less than half their normal deliveries in affected areas.

“With many drivers coming to the end of their weekly hours allowance we were facing a serious risk of livestock farmers running out of feed.

“This move means members can work through the weekend to make additional deliveries.”

The AIC endorsed the government’s view that driver safety must not be jeopardised, Mr Cafall added.

Employers they remain responsible for the safety of their own drivers and other road users.

“We will continue to liaise with the relevant government departments and follow the weather forecasts closely to do all we can to ensure hard-pressed livestock farmers get the feeds they need.”