For most same day couriers within the UK the only legal restrictions on driving and working time will be the domestic drivers’ hours rules and some aspects of the Working Time Directive.
The GB Domestic Drivers’ Hours Rules apply to all drivers of goods vehicles, however small, driven in Great Britain (Northern Ireland has its own rules) in connection with a business, where EU drivers’ hours rules (tacho regulations) don’t apply.
The rules are quite straightforward. In any day (defined as 24 hours from the start of duty) you’re allowed to drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement, whether it is moving or stationary with the engine running.
The total amount of time that you’re allowed to be ‘on duty’ for the same 24 hour period is 11 hours.
For an employed driver, including directors of limited companies, ‘on duty’ means any working time, including sweeping the yard, answering the phone, loading and unloading etc.
For a self-employed driver ‘on duty’ means driving the vehicle or carrying out any other work in connection with the vehicle or its load. Answering the phone or sweeping the yard would not be duty time, cleaning the van or loading it up would be.
If you drive for less than 4 hours in a day there are no restrictions on duty time – you could legally work in the warehouse for 10 hours and then drive for up to 4 hours.
There are exemptions to the duty time BUT NOT THE DRIVING TIME for certain trades, but same day courier work wouldn’t fall into any of the exemptions.
If you only ever drive vehicles that are under 3,500kg GVW there is no legal requirement to keep records of your working or driving hours.
- You can drive for up to 10 hours per day, breaks aren’t included in the 10 hours, nor is loading and unloading or waiting time with the engine switched off.
- You can ‘work’ for up to 11 hours per day, breaks aren’t included but all other work is included (unless you’re self-employed when some work doesn’t count).
- The ‘day’ lasts for 24 hours from the time you start work. So if you start at 10.00am today and work for 11 hours then you can’t do any more work until 10.00am tomorrow.
- There are no record keeping requirements for drivers of vans under 3,500kg.
- There is a requirement under the Working Time Directive and Health & Safety laws for drivers to have adequate rest.
The rules are enforced by VOSA, but except for in cases where tiredness has actually caused an accident I’ve never actually heard of anyone being prosecuted for being ‘over hours’ in a vehicle without a tacho or driving hours log. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, just that I’ve never heard of it.
In the case of an employee who causes an accident while exceeding their daily driving or duty time their employer would almost certainly be held liable for the accident. A death caused by an employee under these circumstances could leave the employer facing a charge of Corporate Manslaughter.
It should also be noted that both VOSA and the Police can go to extraordinary lengths to establish exactly how long a driver has been working, particularly following a serious accident. Mobile phone records can easily be checked to pinpoint the users whereabouts to within a few hundred metres, your own GPS tracking logs can provide even more conclusive evidence, fuel receipts can be examined and the time of fuel-card and credit-card purchases can be traced. Even a POD for a 500 mile round trip same day delivery may be enough to incriminate you.
VOSA are already using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), in conjunction with axle weight sensors embedded in the road, to identify overloaded vehicles. I believe that it’s only a matter of time before they use it to detect drivers’ hours offences as well.
Posted by Alec at 4:19 pm, July 24, 2008