The Federation of Transport Associations of Murcia questions the compatibility of the Spanish services’ activities with European Union legislation. The recently published protocol on the control of weekly rest seems to be an overinterpretation of Regulation (EC) 561/2006 regulating drivers’ working and rest times.
In mid-March, less than a month after the entry into force of the Spanish regulation implementing the Road Transport Act (ROTT), the General Directorate for Traffic (DGT, the equivalent of Polish ITD) published a special protocol. It contains instructions for Civil Guard officers who carry out road transport inspections for DGT. Manuel Pérezcarro Martín, Secretary-General of FROET, spoke on the ban and the protocol at the beginning of April, publishing a critical post on the association’s website.
The ROTT only took into account the infringement of Article 8(6) and (8) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 in the system of penalties, following its interpretation by the Court of Justice of the European Union in its judgment of 20 December 2017.
This raises many doubts and highlights the inability to comply with this standard, which seems to be dictated by a complete ignorance of the (transport – editorial note) industry,” stresses Manuel Pérezcarro Martín.
The secretary also criticises the protocol, which, in his opinion, is questionable from the point of view of legality. This protocol stipulates that for roadside checks, the vehicle must be parked and, after locating the driver, officers carry out a rest check. In the case of a 45-hour or longer pause, according to the protocol, the services are to demand proof that the driver has spent it outside the vehicle, i.e. a hotel bill.
According to Pérezcarro Martín, this is a clear overinterpretation, since, according to the EU regulation and the judgment of the CJEU, ‘a driver cannot spend regular weekly rest periods in his vehicle’.
“The rules do not in any way determine where the driver should spend them, nor do they say that he has to justify where he has spent them,” argues the Secretary-General of FROET.
“This (the protocol and activities of services resulting from it – editorial note) will undoubtedly lead to unjustified sanctions, which, sooner or later, will be annulled by the courts, even though by that time the carriers have to bear the consequences,” says Pérezcarro Martín.
Problems for drivers and carriers
According to the secretary of the Murcia association, the ban on weekly rest in the vehicle causes serious problems both for the carrier and the driver himself, mainly due to the lack of adequate infrastructure.
“There are not enough safe rest areas in Europe that offer the two services necessary to meet the standard. What is needed is a guarded secure parking lot where the vehicle and cargo will be protected against theft, stowaways or other criminal activities. In addition, there are no hotel rooms that will provide accommodation during a regular weekly rest,” comments Pérezcarro Martín.
The Secretary stresses the question of the carrier’s liability for the goods carried. At the same time, he recalls the warnings of the Civil Guard, which expects an increase in cargo theft as a result of the ban in Spain.