2018 News

06 April 2018


There has been on-going liaison over the past few days between the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Road Safety Authority about HGV transport operations associated with the delivery of animal fodder during the current fodder crisis.

Recognising the extraordinary and unexpected circumstances linked to unusual weather conditions in areas of the country and adverse impacts on the availability of animal fodder, the Road Safety Authority will adopt a pragmatic approach when reviewing driver’s hours compliance with driving and resting time periods during the course of roadside inspection and at premises inspections in respect of delivery and collection of such material. During inspections, the history of the driver’s and operator’s overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed and that any deviation from the driving and resting time rules relates only to the carriage of animal fodder.

These arrangements apply from 6 April until 20 April 2018 but will be kept under continuous review in the light of the prevailing circumstances and having regard to wider road safety considerations

Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort. HGV operators must put in place contingency measures to cater for emergency and urgent situations and this must be properly documented and retained for inspection. This should be agreed by operators and their drivers.

The requirement to take breaks after 4½ hours driving and weekly rest remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced.

As regards weekly rest, RSA will also apply a pragmatic approach in cases where drivers take more than 1 reduced weekly rest over a two week driving period in respect of fodder deliveries.

Appropriate arrangements must be in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers in respect of the carriage of animal fodder.  Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or print-outs the reasons why they are exceeding the prescribed limits as well as demonstrate that the carriage involved related to animal fodder.

Driver safety and other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired - employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users. 


  • The number of hours a professional driver can drive in a day/week is closely regulated in order to minimise fatigue-related collisions.  Driver fatigue is a known risk factor in road collisions and can cause loss of concentration or worse, lead to a driver falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue is a significant factor in heavy commercial vehicle crashes.
  • EU law regulates the driving time of professional drivers using goods vehicles over 3.5t (including trailers) and passenger vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats.

The key requirements are that you must not drive:

  • Without a break for more than 4.5 hours. After driving for 4.5 hours, a break of at least 45 minutes is mandatory.  You can distribute that break over the 4.5 hours.
  • For more than nine hours per day or 56 hours per week. This may be extended to 10 hours no more than twice during a week
  • More than 90 hours in two consecutive weeks

There are also strict regulations regarding the average working time and the amount of rest that must be taken daily and weekly.

Tachographs are instruments that measure the amount of time a driver is on the road. There are two kinds: digital and analogue. Both are fitted in the cab of trucks and buses and are used to monitor compliance with driver hours’ legislation. Digital tachographs became mandatory in new commercial lorries and buses in May 2006. The provision of driver cards for use by drivers, companies, calibration workshops and enforcement officers is central to digital tachographs.

Data is stored in the vehicle unit memory and on driver smart cards. The data contains a range of information including distance covered, vehicle speed (for previous 24 hours of driving), vehicle licence number, and driver activity (driving, rest, breaks, other work, periods of availability). A driver’s card can store information for a minimum of 28 days before it begins to be overwritten; the vehicle unit has a larger memory capacity and can store data for 365 days.

The vehicle operator has two key responsibilities in relation to both kinds of tachograph:

  • To download the data from the driver’s cards (at least every 21 days) and vehicle units (at least every 90 days) and save this information for one year. The downloaded information must be made available in its “raw” format to an enforcement officer on request.
  • To monitor drivers’ records and print-outs. If there are breaches of drivers’ rules, the operator must address them and take steps to ensure they do not happen again.

A Road Transport Operator Licence allows the holder to engage in the occupation of road transport operator, i.e. to carry out, for hire or reward, road haulage using vehicles with a maximum authorised weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes, or the transport of passengers in vehicles equipped to carry 9 or more passengers.  Under Section 9(1) of the Road Transport Act 2011, it is an offence to engage in the occupation of road transport operator without holding a licence.  Under Section 9(2) of the Road Transport Act 2011, it is an offence to use a vehicle in relation to the occupation of a road transport operator unless it is authorised on the operator’s licence.



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