• International Workplace
  • 21 February 2018

Drivers’ hours: changes to fines for commercial drivers

From 5 March 2018 rules will change so that commercial drivers who drive tired will be fined for every time they've done it in the last 28 days.

Drivers already have to follow rules on how many hours they can drive and the breaks they need to take. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can fine drivers up to £300 if they’re caught breaking the rules. They can also be prosecuted or have their vehicle immobilised.

At the moment, DVSA can only fine drivers for:

  • offences committed that day; and
  • ongoing offences, like manipulating tachograph records, which record drivers’ hours.

From 5 March, DVSA traffic examiners will start issuing on-the-spot fines for any drivers’ hours offences committed in the last 28 days.

In a single roadside check, DVSA traffic examiners will issue fines for up to five drivers’ hours offences. It means drivers could be fined up to £1,500 in a single check if they’ve consistently broken the rules.

It won’t matter if the offences took place in Great Britain or elsewhere.

The rules will also apply to drivers who don’t live in Great Britain. However, they’ll need to pay any fines immediately, before being allowed to continue their journey. DVSA will immobilise their vehicle until they pay.

As well as giving fines to drivers for recent offences, DVSA traffic examiners have started issuing fines to deal with drivers who don’t properly rest.

Commercial drivers must take a 45-hour rest break at least every fortnight.

Since 1 November 2017, DVSA has started to fine drivers up to £300 if they spend their full weekly rest break in their vehicle in places where it causes a problem, for example, if a lorry driver spends their full break in the cab of their lorry in a layby.

Spending the weekly rest break in the cab can:

  • contribute to drivers not properly resting; and
  • expose drivers to poor living conditions.

About 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), driving while tired may be responsible for one in five of all accidents and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes.

The HSE states that managing the risks to employees who drive at work requires more than just compliance with road traffic legislation.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle.

There will always be risks associated with driving. Although these cannot be completely controlled, an employer has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to manage these risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm in the same way as they would in the workplace.

The HSE has published comprehensive guidance on work-related road safety, which is available to view here.