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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.


Travelling time

Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles are often required to be relocated to a vehicle they are required to drive or from a vehicle they have driven.

Where a vehicle coming within the scope of the EU rules is neither at the driver's home nor at the employer's operational centre where the driver is normally based, but is at a separate location, time spent travelling to or from that location to take charge of the vehicle may not be counted as a rest or break, unless the driver is in a ferry or train and has access to a bunk or couchette.

For example: If a coach driver had to drive for 1 hour by car to pick up a coach from a location that was not at the driver's home or his normal operating base then this driving would count as other work. Similarly, if he had to drive back by car from a location that was not his normal operating base, this would count as other work.

A driver who has driven a vehicle in scope of EU rules and has completed his maximum driving time (9 or 10 hours) may be driven back to base (e.g. by travelling on a coach as passenger), provided he is not required to start a daily rest period or a weekly rest period. He should record this activity as other work or availability, depending on whether he undertakes additional work, such as navigating, while a passenger

Unforeseen events

Provided that road safety is not jeopardised, and to enable a driver to reach a suitable stopping place, a departure from EU rules may be permitted to the extent necessary to ensure the safety of persons (including passengers) or the vehicle. Drivers must note all the reasons for doing so on the back of their tachograph record sheets (if using an analogue tachograph) or on a printout or temporary sheet (if using a digital tachograph), at the latest on reaching the suitable stopping place (see relevant sections covering manual entries, in Section 5, 'Tachograph rules'). Repeated and regular occurrences, however, might indicate to enforcement officers that employers were not in fact scheduling work to enable compliance with the applicable rules.

A judgment by the European Court of Justice dated 9 November 1995 provides a useful guide to how this provision should be interpreted. It can apply only in cases where it unexpectedly becomes impossible to comply with the rules on drivers' hours during the course of a journey. In other words, planned breaches of the rules are not allowed. This means that when an unforeseen event occurs, it is for the driver to decide whether it is necessary to depart from the rules. In doing so, a driver will have to take into account the need to ensure road safety in the process and any instruction that may be given by an enforcement officer (e.g. when under police escort).

Some examples of such events are delays caused by severe weather, road traffic accidents, mechanical breakdowns or interruptions of ferry services, and any event that causes or is likely to cause danger to the life or health of people or animals. Note that this concession only allows for drivers to reach a suitable stopping place, not necessarily to complete their planned journey. Drivers and operators are expected to reschedule any disrupted work to remain in compliance with the EU rules.

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