Government extends drivers’ hours rules to address shortage

The government has extended the legal limit for HGV drivers’ hours to address the current driver shortage.

On Wednesday the Department for Transport announced that it was introducing a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers rules in England, Scotland, and Wales, in response to “pressures on local and national supply chains.”

The temporary extension will apply from 12 July until 8 August.

“We’re temporarily extending drivers’ hours rules from Mon 12 July to allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys where necessary, as we’re aware of a current shortage of drivers,” tweeted parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department of Transport, Baroness Charlotte Vere. “Driver safety must not be compromised & operators must notify DfT if this relaxation is used.”

The move has sparked backlash from trade unions who have warned that relaxation of existing regulations on the maximum number of hours lorry drivers can work will “not resolve the problem.”

“Asking an already exhausted workforce to work even longer is likely to make an already difficult situation worse,” said Adrian Jones, Unite national officer for road transport. “Driving regulations are highly complex and to announce a relaxation on twitter without any proper detail, has simply created more confusion and uncertainty across the sector.”

Jones added: “The government should not be announcing a relaxation in driving hours, which are critical to ensure the safety of all road users, without also ensuring that the relevant monitoring and enforcement of the revised rules are in place.”

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