In 2007 new drivers’ hours regulations came into force in the UK which had a significant impact on operators and drivers whose vehicles were subject to EU drivers’ hours regulations. However, until recently there has been a delay in relation to a review of the domestic drivers’ hours rules.  

On the 21 July 2009 the Department of Transport stated that it was going to conduct a consultation on domestic drivers’ hours regulations. The consultation period will run from the 21st July 2009 to the 13th October 2009. A copy of the consultation document can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/domesticdrivershours/.  

The purpose of the consultation is to examine every aspect of current domestic regulations from the number of hours worked\driven, adherence to the current driving limits, monitoring and enforcement.  

The findings of the consultation could impact on organisations that operate a variety of vehicles including; vans not exceeding 3.5 tonnes, passenger transport (operating on regular routes and upto 50 km), refuse lorries, road maintenance vehicles etc.  

This consultation could potentially impact on organisations who operate in a variety of sectors (e.g. NHS, refuse collection, courier companies, bus operators etc.). The emphasis of the consultation is to look at the adherence to the current regulations and how compliance is monitored. The safety of the public and other road users is at the forefront of the consultation.  

The possible scenario that could arise after the consultation period has been completed is a move to a much more formal system akin to that which is already in place for those drivers and organisations that fall within the EU Regulations. This could lead to the introduction of tachograph equipment; enforced daily, weekly and fortnightly rest periods; closer monitoring of drivers’ hours by VOSA etc.  

All organisations that operate vehicles that are currently subject to domestic drivers’ hours regulations should ensure that they have systems in place to enable them to comply with their existing obligations. Compliance at this stage will not only avoid the possibility of prosecution but also enable the organisation to adapt quicker to a more stringent set of regulations in the future.