The Mobility Package was adopted by the European Parliament on 8 July 2020. This Mobility Package consists of two Regulations and one Directive, which lay down new rules on admission to the occupation and to the market, driving and rest periods and tachographs, respectively, and enforcement and posting of drivers in the road transport sector. This contribution will consider the new rules on driving times, rest periods and tachographs.
Entry into force
Important to know: most of this part of the Mobility Package entered into force on the 20th of August 2020, unlike the other parts of the Mobility Package. Only if a different date is explicitly set, this part of the Regulation will enter into force later.
In principle, taking weekend rest in the vehicle remains prohibited. Compensation for earlier shortened weekend rest may also not be taken on board the vehicle. The weekend rest will therefore have to be taken at a different location, which has been placed together under the heading of ‘accommodation’. The costs of such accommodation must be borne by the employer, which must be suitable and gender friendly, as well as have a suitable place to sleep and sanitary facilities.
In addition, the employer must offer the driver the opportunity to take his or her weekend rest at home at least every four weeks. The employer will have to be able to provide evidence of this. However, ‘home’ does not only mean the place of residence of the driver, but also the operational headquarters of the employer where the employee is normally employed. If applicable, the weekend rest will only start from the moment the driver arrives at one of these places. However, in the case of a weekend rest that has been shortened twice consecutively and this in the case of an international transport, the employer must already offer this possibility after three weeks instead of four weeks.
Furthermore, it is permitted to have a shortened weekend rest abroad twice in succession, but only subject to a number of conditions. For example, at least four weekly rest periods must be taken in four consecutive weeks, two of which are normal; compensation for this shortened weekend rest must take place within three weeks, as well as the possibility of return (see above) and this compensation must be taken before and after normal weekend rest, in contrast to the normal rule whereby compensation for a shortened weekend rest may be taken after daily rest periods.
Retention period of on-board records
The previous retention period of 28 days for on-board registrations will be increased to 56 days from 31 December 2024. If printouts have to be kept (e.g. because of a technical defect in the tachograph), they must be kept shielded from light. The reason for this extension of the control period lies in the fact that the data from the tachograph will no longer be used solely for checking compliance with driving and rest periods, but also for checking cabotage and secondment.
Exceptions for all Member States
Vehicles of up to 7,5 tonnes carrying out only non-commercial transport operations are exempt from the obligations concerning driving times and rest periods. Non-commercial transport is transport where there is no link whatsoever with professional or commercial activities and no compensation is paid, either directly or indirectly.
In addition, the already existing derogation concerning the transport of own material, equipment or machinery by a vehicle not exceeding 7,5 tonnes within a radius of 100 km from the place of establishment of the undertaking and provided that the driving of a vehicle is not the driver’s main activity, has been extended to the delivery of goods which are produced on a craft basis.
Boat and train hours
The existing arrangement whereby it was possible for a driver to interrupt his daily rest period twice for up to one hour to move the vehicle on or off a boat or train was extended as of 20 August 2020. It is now also possible to do so in the event of a shortened or normal weekend rest, but only under certain conditions. For example, if the normal weekend rest is interrupted, the boat or train journey must be at least 8 hours. The driver must also have a sleeping cabin or sofa bed on board, bearing in mind the weekend rest measures outlined above. Finally, the interruption must be recorded in the tachograph using the special symbol for boat and train hours.
Deviation for suitable stopping place
The famous Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, which deals with exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances in which it is permissible to derogate from compulsory driving and rest periods, was also substantially amended by the new Mobility Package Regulation.
Under the new rules, the daily or weekly driving time may be exceeded by a maximum of one hour in order to reach the employer’s place of business or the driver’s place of residence for weekend rest (see above). This exceeding may be increased to a maximum of two hours if the driver takes a 30-minute uninterrupted break before taking a normal weekend break. The reason for this deviation must be indicated on a printout and this at the latest upon arrival at the destination to be reached or a suitable stopping place. In addition, this extension must be compensated for by taking an additional rest period in line with the daily or weekly rest within three weeks.
Lower weight limit
From 1 July 2026, a lower weight limit will be used for the application of the Regulations on driving times and rest periods and the tachograph. For instance, a tachograph will become compulsory above 2,5 MAM in international transport and cabotage. Nothing will therefore change for hauliers engaged in purely national transport. However, there is an exception for vehicles between 2,5 MAM and 3,5 MAM if the transport is carried out for own account and driving is not the driver’s main activity.
Smart Tacho 2.0
In the not so distant past, the Smart Tacho was already introduced. The Mobility Package now provides an updated version of this Smart Tacho and provides for a phased roll-out in this respect. The difference between the Smart Tacho and the Smart Tacho ‘2.0’ lies in the fact that the renewed version will also register the location when crossing a border and when loading or unloading. The Smart Tacho 2.0 will become mandatory in new vehicles from two years after publication of the technical specifications. The obligation is expected to come into force by mid-2023. Furthermore, it is expected that analogue and digital tachographs will have to be replaced by the Smart Tacho 2.0 in international transport by mid-2024. Finally, the first generation Smart Tacho’s will have to be replaced by the Smart Tacho 2.0 for international transport by mid-2025. The controls for the second generation Smart Tachos are expected to be in place by mid-2024. These means of control will provide for the possibility of remote control. The technological functions of the Smart Tacho 2.0 will also make it possible to check compliance with the rules on secondment and cabotage.
From 2 February 2022, a driver who does not have a vehicle equipped with a Smart Tacho 2.0 will have to enter the country symbol at the nearest stop after crossing the border of this country.
Finally, the new Regulation introduces a number of miscellaneous provisions.
For example, a ban was imposed on compensation for drivers in proportion to the speed with which they deliver, and working time and availability time that could not be recorded in the tachograph must be added to the memory or indicated manually on a printout. This was already the case before the entry into force of the Regulation, but it is repeated explicitly once again in order to remove any ambiguity in this respect. In addition, in the case of a double or twin crew, the passenger may only take a rest period in the moving vehicle if it is not required that he performs other tasks, such as assisting the driver.
Under the new regulation, the European Commission will also have to provide more information to transport operators. For example, they will publish online a list of certified car parks, as well as Member States’ different penalties for infringements of the provisions on driving times and rest periods and the tachograph in all languages used in the EU.