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On 20 August, the first provisions of the Mobility Package entered into force, including, among others, the extension of driving time. According to it, the driver will be able to extend the ride by one hour, and in some situations even by two. Experts have no doubt that many drivers and carriers will be happy with this change. But they need to be careful.

The “Lucky Twelve” – this is how the industry calls Article 12 of Regulation 561/2006 on driving and rest times, which even before allowed for the possibility of exceeding the limits in exceptional situations. From now on, however, this extension has become even greater.

The Mobility Package introduces the possibility to extend the daily and weekly driving time and the overall activity time of a single driver by up to 2 hours beyond current standards. This applies to emergency situations: accident, unexpected detour, border congestion, COVID-19 sanitary checks, etc.,” explains Mariusz Hendzel, an expert of the ITD-PIP Transport Law Office.

What does it mean in practice? The daily and weekly driving limits have remained unchanged, but a framework has been set up for the violation of these limits on return to the company’s base or at home.

However, it should be made clear that additional working hours will only be permitted in exceptional cases.

Particular care is therefore required not to jeopardise the safety of other road users and it is mandatory to make a printout (or even several) describing the reason for the deviation from the rules. If we are looking for a parking lot to take a break or a place to rest on the route, it is worth making a printout every time we exit to the successive parking lots in search of a place,” says Mariusz Hendzel.

That’s not all. The Mobility Package clearly states when working time can be exceeded by one hour and when by two.

We can exceed it by a maximum of 1 hour when planning a reduced weekly rest. In that case, the regulations cannot be violated beyond these 60 minutes. However, if the driver returns home for a longer stop (e.g. for regular rest and compensation), the regulations can be violated by up to 2 hours,” says the ITD-PIP Law Office.

It should also be remembered that such a violation of working time also entails the obligation to take an additional break. You can read about when it is supposed to happen and how long it should last in the guidebook, which you can download for free HERE

Further changes from 20 August

Extended working hours are just one of the few new rules coming into force today.

The Mobility Package also requires carriers to organise their drivers’ working hours in such a way that they can take rests at the base.

During this time they should take at least one regular weekly rest or a weekly rest of more than 45 hours as compensation for the reduced weekly rest,” instructs the TransCash Law Office.

In addition, drivers will have to take rest periods of more than 45 hours not in the vehicle’s cab but in a dedicated, safe place with sanitary facilities.

Starting from 20 August, the Mobility Package changes the rule on weekly rest (reduced and regular).

From the moment the new rules enter into force, a driver will have to take two regular rest periods and one regular reduced rest period within two weeks of work,” adds TransCash.

You can also read about the rules of taking the said rests in the guide mentioned above. 

What happens after March 2022?

Next, in March 2022, the rules on posting of drivers in international transport and on cabotage will come into force. According to the latter, as Paul Reich from TransCash explains, “a road carrier holding a transport licence in one of the Member States of the European Union will be able to continue to carry out a maximum of three cabotage operations for 7 days in a row.”

However, a driver will not be able to carry out a cabotage operation again on the territory of the same European Union Member State after finishing another cabotage operation unless at least four days have passed since the last operation and an international transport operation has been performed,” reserves the lawyer.

“This amendment aims primarily at protecting the internal markets of the Member States of the European Union from cheaper carriers from Eastern Europe,” he adds.

The Mobility Package will be amended?

The change concerning cabotage is one of the more controversial ones, mainly due to the aforementioned protectionist nature. Equally controversial are the provisions introducing (in the next step) the obligation to return the vehicle to the country of registration at least every 8 weeks. As experts point out, the latter are incompatible with the idea of the so-called Green Deal, because in practice they mean that trucks will often go empty. The European Commission was of a similar opinion.

However, these voices were not taken into account and the Mobility Package received the necessary support in the EU legislative bodies. Yet, there is still hope that the legislation that is slowly coming into force will be amended as soon as an impact assessment is available. This was announced a few months ago by EU Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean, who also criticised some of the provisions of the Mobility Package.

An obligation to return a heavy goods vehicle may reduce the efficiency of the transport system and increase unnecessary emissions, pollution and congestion, while restrictions on combined transport could reduce its effectiveness in promoting multimodal freight operations,” she indicated in an official statement in early July.

She added that the impact of these provisions “on the climate, the environment and the functioning of the single market” is currently being assessed and encouraged representatives of Member State authorities and the TSL industry to provide data for this assessment.

The conclusions of the analysis will be ready by the end of this year. The Commission will, if necessary, exercise its right to present a targeted legislative proposal before the entry into force of these two provisions,” she ensured.

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