Photo: Girteka press materials

Girteka offers thoughts on weekend rest rules and benefits of AI tools

Earlier this month, Girteka used the “celebrate" icon under a LinkedIn post detailing the EU Commission's clarification that HGV inspectors cannot demand documental evidence of past weekend rest spent outwith the cab. Girteka has since clarified what was meant by this gesture, and also offered its wider thoughts on weekend rest requirements as a whole.

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In an email sent to Trans.INFO, Tomasz Weber, Girteka’s Head Of Corporate Communications, explained what the company intended by the gesture on LinkedIn:

“We are part of TTLA and we support their activities in terms of communication. We see the challenges we all are facing in logistics sector – drivers’ shortage. As we are addressing a lot of initiatives to overcome the challenge, every kind of activity that increase working conditions for drivers are good. That’s why we found this information very valuable, as it is simplifying our drivers daily operational tasks.”

Mr Weber was also keen to highlight various driver initiatives Girteka has undertaken, including recent increases in pay.

In addition, Mr Weber agreed to talk to Trans.INFO in more detail regarding the weekend rest rules. Artur Lysionok, editor of Trans.INFO’s Lithuanian-language service, then quizzed Mr Weber on the matter.

The resulting short Q&A can be read in full below:

Is the clarification of the European Commission regarding weekend rest good news for drivers and hauliers? If so, why?

Each explanation that reduces bureaucracy simplifies and facilitates the daily work of drivers is perceived by us as improving the working conditions of drivers. The previous interpretation of the provision and inspections required a documentation, which could very often be unavailable to drivers when both the accommodation and payments for them were made from the headquarters or from transport bases. This made it difficult and caused unnecessary stress in the already tough work of the driver. It should be noted, however, that the interpretation has not yet been officially published, but its connotations are positive.

We must remember that today there is a shortage of over 400,000 drivers in Europe. As experts commented, this situation may even worsen due to the aging of drivers, as well as the low popularity of this profession among young people. Therefore, in order to ensure reliable road transport, on which European supply chains are based today, the conditions and rules for the performance of drivers’ work are very important, both in the context of facilitating everyday work, as well as supporting all types of related initiatives.

In the case of large carriers, with a highly digitized work environment of drivers, activities related to the planning and implementation of transports, as well as meeting all requirements regarding stops, rests, etc. are carried out using artificial intelligence tools, combining a number of indicators and factors affecting the final scope of work, i.e. routes, resting places, refuelling, etc. Such solutions ensure transparency in the event of inspections, clarity, and certainty of compliance with local and European regulations, but above all, they facilitate the work of drivers, thanks to the reduced amount of formalities or securing documentation.

Was it a problem for your company that inspectors required evidence of overnight stays outside the vehicle? If so, did the drivers receive fines and how much?

Yes, it happened in individual situations that we received fines for this type of action, which was most often the result of the lack of documents, drivers’ decisions, or simple mistakes. Today, our planning is largely based on the use of artificial intelligence, which, based on the given parameters, prepares the optimal route, as well as stops, rests, etc. Thanks to this, it is much easier to ensure that all legal requirements are met, which allows us to focus on optimization in terms of delivery time, route, and length, as well as emissions and fuel consumption, and the driver can carry out the best possible transport of products without unnecessary stress.

Previously, a recording was not a problem, but in control situations, it generated additional human work, difficult to predict and plan. In some cases, this has been a major challenge, especially when we are talking about more than 18,000 drivers crossing the roads of Europe every day.

What is your position on the provision that weekly rest must be taken outside the vehicle? Does this affect the business?

When artificial intelligence is used to plan transports, we can make elements such as routes, stops, etc. predict and plan in the most optimal way, meeting the requirements of current regulations, while reducing costs. In the short term, this could be seen as an increase in costs, but when we look at it in the long term, taking into account the current situation in Europe, it should be considered as one of the investments in improving the working conditions of drivers. Being a responsible company, one of our main mottos is „Drivers first” and we take all actions aimed at improving the working conditions of drivers very seriously. Therefore, we were satisfied with the information on the new interpretation of the regulations, which facilitates the daily work of not only our drivers.