Unlike in the United States, the drivers of coaches and trucks are highly regulated in Europe. In the interests of safety in our more crowded roads, the authorities have imposed more and more stringent regulations on the hours that a driver can be on duty or drive. These rules are being strictly controlled with spot checks both on the road and back at base. Repeated prosecutions can lead to the withdrawal of the operator’s license to hire coaches or trucks and this does frequently happen and companies go out of business as a result.
Originally these laws were designed to protect employees from abusive practices but also for the safety of all road users as the majority of accidents on the road are caused by tiredness.
Since the 11th April 2007 the rules have been changed across Europe such that all drivers must have at least two 45 hour, and one 24 hour break over a rolling 3 week period. The driver may not exceed 6 days of work without at least one of these breaks.
For this reason, all the professional operators are now having to fly out spare drivers where no suitable gap appears in the tour itinerary. This may well cost in excess of £1,500 each week including hotels and flights – please do not blame us, blame the politicians.
The solution is for booking agents to ensure that no period exceeds 6 days without a subsequent 45 break.
The rules simplified:
- Max spread over a day 13 hrs or 15 if a clear 3 hour rest during day with a bunk available (split spread over)If two drivers wholly from beginning of shift to end of shift then 21 hr spread over is allowed.
- Max driving 9 hours (10 hours twice a week)
- Min daily rest is 11 hours. Reduced to 9 hrs 3 times a week or 9 hours if a split spread over on any day(see above).
- Driver can not exceed 6 x 24 hour shifts (144 hours) without taking a 45 hour break. This can be reduced to 24 hours every other week as long as the missing hours are added to an existing 9 or 11 hour break by the end of week
Why should you not use a carrier who ignores these rules ?
- That the rules are designed for safety and;
- That YOU (yes you) will also now be prosecuted if the rules are abused. Worse, if there is a fatal accident and the driver is found to be over his legal hours, you can be convicted of corporate homicide – why take the risk ?
- That it is likely a truck or bus is parked up for the required break if the police or other authority does a roadside check on a vehicle with an offending driver. Can you risk not turning up for a gig?
- The authorities are known to be looking for one or more test cases. Do you want to be personally liable if a band (as the hirer) gets fined and misses a gig because the truck or coach is forced to park up ?
The above also applies where a driver exceeds his daily legal allowance or does not get his full legal daily break. This can happen with hotel or car park runs so please do discuss your needs with the operator or the driver to avoid such issues.
We may have all got away with this in the past but those days are now ending. Please do feel to discuss these issues with your truck or coach operator, the professional ones are all working according to this new law. In fact we have all agreed to protect our businesses we will report any competitor who undercuts us by breaking the law as we can not look away when there is unfair competition.
FOOTNOTE: 15th April 2007 - Phoenix Bussing have a bus with passengers stopped to take his legal break for 45 hours at the Spanish border at Irun.
FOOTNOTE 2: You may ask why this situation was not predicted earlier. The answer is that in the UK at least, sleeper coaches up to 16 beds were treated as "minibuses" and there was a special derogation that was very flexible, It was only once the law was published that we became aware that the derogation was excluded.
If you wish to download a summary of the rules please click here.
If you want to see an interesting pair of videos to see what can happen if we do not comply with the rules then click here and click here.