Aquarius IT Highlights the Importance of the EU Mobility Package

Although it was most probably lost amongst the commotion of the last year, last August saw the introduction of the EU Mobility Package, and Aquarius IT are advising that it contains a variety of amendments and derogations concerning EU Drivers Hours that many bus and coach operators may still not be aware of – and with the current driver shortage forcing the use of “occasional” drivers in many cases, it’s imperative the industry are made aware of the new rules, especially around record-keeping.

The changes in the EU Mobility Package 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.

Marc Caplin, Aquarius IT’s Compliance Advisor says: “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,” explains Marc.

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”,” says Marc.  “This leaves things rather 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, says Marc, this seemingly minor omission 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, confirms Marc.

All drivers, be they full-time long-haul coach 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, but Marc points to the following clause contained in point 4 of Article 1 of the amendment document, which states:

“This record shall be entered either manually on a record sheet or printout or by use of manual input facilities on recording equipment.”

Marc says: “What this means in reality 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)
  • One the reverse of an analogue chart (again, one a day)
  • Electronically via a manual entry (this can be a tricky process).

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 occasion that operators are hearing of this is during a roadside check. So far, the DVSA has approached this pragmatically, opting to educate drivers at the roadside or during site visits, but their focus is now shifting to one of enforcement of these amended regulations,” confirmed Marc.

As road transport software specialists with significant knowledge of the legislation, Aquarius IT lead the way in technology innovation with ClockWatcher Elite – a fully integrated software solution that manages all areas of operator compliance and driver/vehicle/asset management. ClockWatcher Elite also supports the Earned Recognition Scheme, with the software’s integrated Tachograph Analysis software and Asset Maintenance portal accredited by the DVSA.

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