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Emergency Exemptions in Driver Hours Regulations: A Closer Look

Driver hour regulations exist to protect both HGV operators and other road users, however, there are some emergency circumstances when examptions apply. It’s important that any transport managers or HR professionals managing a fleet of HGV drivers understand what these exceptional cases are.

These special exemptions are there to make sure that goods and services are still able to be delivered in the event of exceptional circumstances while still maintaining a level of safety. In this article, we take a closer look at these exemptions, so that you can get a better understanding of when and how they’re applied.

Understanding What the Emergency Exemptions Involve

Under UK law, there are certain HGV driver hours exemptions that account for exceptional circumstances and emergency cases. They’re provided so that goods can still be moved in a safe way during what might described as critical times.

It’s important to note that when we say ‘unforseen events’, we’re talking about emergency exceptions when these events can’t be avoided. We’re also describing situations that call for immediate action in order to prevent danger or severe disruptions.

Some examples of what emergency exceptions include:

  • When severe weather conditions exist, drivers might be asked work beyond their stipulated hours, so that they’re able to reach their destination with essential supplies.
  • When essential services like electricity, gas, telecommunications or water become disrupted, drivers can extend their working hours beyond the mandated level in order to get them back up and running.

In every case where emergency exemptions are implemented, it’s vital to document its nature and the reason they were brought into force. As such, maintaing accurate records of hours worked/rest or breaks taken during this time is important.

Ensuring Your Drivers Understand the Rules

As well as transport managers being up to speed with the rules relating to driver hour exemptions, drivers must also be well-informed about the circumstances in which they apply. This can be ensured by conducting training sessions and briefings in which you educate your drivers on how to record their hours during emergencies.

What must also be reinforced is the fact that rest periods and breaks must also be taken during exceptional times like these. Driver fatigue can still be a major danger to other road users, so it must remain a focus.

Balancing Public Safety With Essential Deliveries

The entire reason why these driver hour emergency exemptions exist is to make sure that during these critical times, a balance is struck between public safety and the delivery of essential goods. Having a comprehensive understanding of these exemptions, keeping accurate records and properly educating drivers are key steps in the process.

As ever, transport managers must have clear protocols in place – that everyone is aware of – that relate to these exmptions and that ensure the safety and well-being of drivers (and other road users) is never compromised.

About the author

Jonathan Gilder

Jonathan Gilder

Head of Training and Transport
Jonathan is a distinguished NRI HGV Instructor accredited by RTITB, with certifications in IOSH Managing Safely, RTITB Lift Truck Instruction, and ROSPA Assured PAT Testing. His expertise extends to EdI Level 3 NVQ Assessing, Btec Level 2 in Transportation of Goods by Road, and he is a skilled Trainer in Driver CPC and Incident Investigation from GH Safety.

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