Coronavirus: changes to driving regulations

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The DVSA has published a number of changes that are being made to ensure compliance, as well as keeping businesses and people safe on the roads. Here is what you need to know. 

Changes to MOTs

Lorries buses and trailers will be exempt from needing an MOT for 3 months from 21st March 2020. MOTs for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months from 30th March 2020. The vehicle must still be kept safe to drive but the MOT due date will be extended. If vehicle tax is due, the vehicle can be taxed as soon as the MOT due date has been updated.

If any vehicle failed its MOT prior to the 30 March 2020 deadline, the following apply:

  • The vehicle will not get an extension to its MOT due date and an MOT must be passed before it can be driven.
  • Garages are currently on the exemption list for business that must close. Some garages will only be providing critical services to vehicles due for MOT in the meantime. It is of course advisable to speak to the garage over the phone first, to ensure that Government guidelines are being followed correctly.
  • The government is allowing MOT centres and garages to remain open, which means that you can still get an MOT if you need your vehicle to shop for necessities, to provide care for a vulnerable person and to travel to and from work, if you can’t work from home. 

Changes to drivers’ hours 

A relaxation has been authorised for drivers under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules, undertaking carriage of goods by road in all sectors, between 23rd March (00:01) and 21st April (23:59) (continuation of the relaxation past 5 April is subject to review). 

Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. 

The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys and are as follows:

  1. Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with an increase to 11 hours.
  2. Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours.
  3. Raising the weekly driving limit from 56 to 60 hours and raising the fortnightly driving limit from 90 to 96 hours.
  4. Postponing the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six 24 hour periods by increasing this to seven 24 hour periods; although 2 regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within each fortnight.
  5. Extending the requirement to take a daily break of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours of driving.

Drivers must not use relaxation ‘1’ and ‘4’ at the same time, to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest. Drivers are also required to note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

Relaxation of GB drivers’ hours rules

Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation for 5 days in any 7 day period and must take a rest period of 24 hours within the same 7 day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.

When driving under the GB drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on their record sheet (or tachograph charts or printouts, if applicable) the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes. The relaxations appear below:

  • Replacement of the GB duty time limit of 11 hours with 12 hours.
  • Replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours.

The DVSA has emphasised that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired and employers will remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees as well as other road users, so any increases must be by necessity. 

It is not clear what is deemed as ‘necessary’ in this instance but it is clear that these measures are being introduced to meet unprecedented demand for supplies, whilst balancing this with the need to ensure that the roads remain safe. 

The DVSA has encouraged those businesses that may be struggling, due to high work demands or work absences because of Covid-19, to take urgent measures to secure new drivers who currently have little or no work. It appears that the DVSA is encouraging businesses to maintain employment levels and thus maintain the normal drivers’ hours rather than having existing drivers work longer hours to cover the situation.

More information

For more information regarding DVSA's changes to driving regulations, contact our expert Kate Oliver.

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