EU Mobility Package
Wednesday 4th August 2021
Aquarius IT's Compliance Advisor, discusses the introduction of the EU Mobility Package, and what this means.
Although it was most probably lost amongst the commotion of the last year, last August saw the introduction of the EU Mobility Package, which contained a variety of amendments and derogations concerning EU Drivers Hours. These changes contained amendments to how Weekly Rest can be taken on international journeys, some changes to certain definitions and a ban on drivers taking regular Weekly Rests in the cab, amongst other things including record-keeping.
In our daily conversations with operators, it would appear that many are unaware that these changes have been introduced and although it is fair to say that some of them may be specific to those operations who are running international journeys, the Mobility Package does contain elements that are directly relevant to all operators.
The main one that falls into this category is the amendment made to Article 6(5) of Drivers' Hours 561/2006 which, through a seemingly minor tweak, has major implications for record keeping.
Prior to last August, the 'original' version of Article 6(5), the part of Drivers' Hours relating to drivers needing to record any other duties in addition to EU driving, stated that these records needed to cover the period "since his last daily or weekly rest period. This record shall be entered either manually on a record sheet, a printout or by use of manual input facilities on recording equipment."
The new amendment contained within the Mobility Package is however, worded differently - it omits the phrase "since his daily or weekly rest". This leaves things horribly open-ended and, in the absence of the previous time-scale, means that all drivers now have to keep records for roadside inspection for a full 28 days.
For those drivers involved in full-time in-scope driving activities, the impact of this change will be minimal as the vast majority of their work will already be recorded on a driver card.
However, this seemingly minor change has a major impact on those drivers that can be described as "occasional" e.g., those drivers where driving is not their main function - relief drivers, office staff called upon to jump in a vehicle when there is a driver shortage - quite a lengthy list!
Prior to last August, drivers in this category needed to carry the current week's-worth of records with them for the purposes of Drivers' Hours enforcement with other records able to be kept via alternative methods e.g., diary, timesheets etc.
This has now changed!
All drivers, be they full-time long-haul freight drivers through to those drivers who might drive an in-scope vehicle once a month, need to carry 28 days' worth of records with them at the roadside. This in itself may not sound like such a tall order, however, the following clause contained in point 4 of Article 1 of the amendment document states:
"This record shall be entered either manually on a record sheet or printout or by use of manual input facilities on recording equipment."
What this means in reality (case study time!) is that a transport manager who jumps in a vehicle to cover sickness absence would need to make sure they have the appropriate records on them for the last 28 days, which can ONLY be recorded as follows:
• On the reverse of a piece of tachograph printer-roll (one record per 24-hour period)
• On the reverse of an analogue chart (again, one a day)
• Electronically via a manual entry (good luck trying to add several days' worth of data without making a mistake!).
This leaves those people who do not drive very often, or may be called upon to do so unexpectedly, in the position where they need to be making these records every day in order to manage the situation effectively, creating an additional admin task.
As I said before, this change has gone largely unnoticed and, in a lot of cases, the first time operators are hearing of this is during a roadside check.
So far, the DVSA have approached this pragmatically, opting to educate drivers at the roadside or during site visits but, a year since the changes were introduced, it seems inevitable that their focus will soon have to shift to one of enforcement of these amended regulations.
Shifting the emphasis back towards paper-based records has been viewed by many in the industry as a backward step, given the abundance of technology now available that can assist with all sorts of basic day-to-day functions and, speaking as a software provider, we often get asked the question as to why information concerning work outside of a vehicle can't be recorded electronically.
Although we have passed this question on to both the DVSA and, in turn, the Department for Transport, we are still awaiting a response and given the events of the last 18 months, we may have to wait for a while longer!