In our June edition of the monthly blog, we look at how our constantly changing environment is emerging in light of COVID-19.
With many operators struggling to survive in the current trading conditions, this is a time of great despair for some. In a survey conducted by the RHA last month, hauliers reported that 46 percent of trucks are inactive and 25 percent of drivers have been furloughed. This has recently reduced to 32 percent according to a survey carried out for Motor Transport Magazine by market researchers Fusion.
Even for those who continue to thrive, it is a time of great uncertainty. How long will the new Guidance on drivers hours remain in operation? Will the prosecution against me be dropped? We have signposted you to the latest Guidance and bulletins in the hope this makes the constantly changing landscape more accessible.
Can we help you?
The DVSA is continuing to impose prohibitions and fixed penalty notices. Instead of entering the drivers cab, there are an increasing number of requests for data to be supplied digitally (after the event). Make sure that you are prepared for this.
In some traffic areas, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner has begun to issue papers which require you to attend a Public Inquiry, albeit without a hearing date. Please don’t wait for a date before taking action! If you receive a set of call up papers take advice now to ensure you can implement as much as possible before the hearing takes place. This gives you the best chance of avoiding regulatory action.
We have remained open for business and are now visiting operators where a ‘zoom’ meeting is not appropriate or viable. You can also visit our premises in Milton Keynes for a fixed fee meeting to discuss any operator licence issues you may have.
If you would like a quotation for a visit to you or fixed fee meeting here, please click this link and tell us a bit about your query.
Principal Solicitor | CE Transport Law
Consultant Solicitor | CE Transport Law
Magistrates & Crown Court Case Reviews
Will they drop the case against me?
The short answer is - they just might.
The Magistrates and Crown Courts are continuing to operate on a limited basis, with urgent cases involving defendants in custody, domestic violence and offences linked to the pandemic taking priority.
With another 16 Magistrates Courts re-opening this week, efforts are underway to extend this to hearing cases of defendants on bail.
If you are on bail or awaiting a court date on summons, this may be the opportunity to ask the prosecutor to review your case in line with the Case review Guidance. This has been updated and asks the prosecutor to review whether proceeding against you continues to be a proportionate response?
In other words, given the inevitable delay and the increasing ‘case pipeline’ is it right to carry on with the case against you or would a caution/warning be more appropriate?
If you want to ask the prosecutor to review YOUR case have a look at the guidelines to help you draft your letter or get in touch with us.
Temporary relaxation of drivers' hours
The relaxation of the EU drivers’ hours rules expired at 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020. This has not been extended.
The relaxation of the GB domestic drivers’ hours rules will follow this weekend at 23:59 on Sunday 14 June 2020. There are currently no plans to extend this either.
You can find further information on the relaxation of drivers' hours regulations:
Annual test exemption
The DVSA is hoping to get the MOT testing up and running again this month.
In the meantime, vehicles due for test in June will receive a three-month exemption from needing an annual test. This includes vehicles which were originally made exempt in March 2020.
The exemptions will be applied automatically but if you want to check this there is a handy online checker available:
Driver Qualification Card (DQC) validity
The validity of DQCs that expire between 1 February 2020 and 31 August 2020 has been extended for 7 months.
If the expiry date on your card is in this period, you need to add 7 months to that date to calculate the new expiry date.
Please note that this has been BROUGHT FORWARD by a month due to the availability of online courses.
Enforcement action will be taken from 1 September 2020.
NB: Drivers have been granted the same 7 month extension to the photocard drivers licence.
Tachograph card renewal
Similarly to the extension which applies to DQC and photocard drivers licences, (from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020), drivers who apply to renew their tachograph card no later than 15 days before their card is due to expire, can continue to drive until they receive a new card.
Operator Financial Standing update
It is necessary for road transport undertakings to have a minimum financial standing to ensure the proper launching and administration of their business. The amount which an operator is required to demonstrate varies depending upon the type of licence held and the number of vehicles on the licence (not the number of vehicles operated). If you are experiencing cash flow difficulties and cannot meet the requirement you are urged to notify the Traffic Commissioner and ask for a period of grace. Unlike some of the other measures, this will not be granted automatically, and you must pro-actively apply. A traffic commissioner would normally require tangible evidence to show that financial standing can be met in the future but, given the exceptional and short-term circumstances, the Senior Traffic Commissioner has directed that a traffic commissioner may rely on a previous satisfactory financial check which meets the prescribed sum, within the last 12 months, as evidence to support the granting of a Period of Grace. The maximum grace period a Traffic Commissioner could previously allow was 6 months. This has been extended to 12 months.
Access to toilet and hand washing facilities
Part of the response to the pandemic has been the routine closure of public toilets. Drivers are legally entitled to easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities while carrying out their work.
The Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive have written a letter outlining the legal requirement for businesses to provide such access to drivers.
Coronavirus: CILT and FTA launch working Good Practice Guide
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have released the Good Practice Guide for Covid-19, a document sharing practical advice on how logistics businesses can restart their operations safely, effectively and quickly as the nation emerges from lockdown.
Government Guidance on safe working in vehicles
On 11 May 2020, the Government released its own Guidance on how to work safely for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
Drivers whose Driver CPC card expires in the period from 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 can continue driving.
Direct Vision Standard
The Direct Vision Standard measures how much a HGV driver can see directly through their cab windows. In order to reach the prescribed standard, this may involve making changes to the safety equipment on the vehicle. From 26 October 2020, ALL goods vehicles over 12 tonnes will require a permit to drive into Greater London, including vehicles from outside of the UK.
Although not formally pushed back, TfL have indicated that they will not bring enforcement proceedings against companies who have failed to obtain the permit before 1 March 2021 (at the earliest). The start date will be confirmed by October 2020 and published on their website which says:
“This is to give the freight industry more time to meet the new standards as they face intense demands from the coronavirus pandemic".
Credit: Unsplash for use of some images