Department for Transport
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Limitations on driving hours to be relaxed to allow important movements of animals
EU drivers' hours rules will be relaxed in areas outside the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) Risk Area to allow important movements of animals, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly announced today.
This relaxation, which will apply across Great Britain, will be introduced when movements to livestock markets are permitted in the FMD Low Risk Area, subject to no changes in the current disease situation (from 4 October). It will increase the driving hours available by one third over a fortnight.
Ruth Kelly said:
"This is an important time for farmers and livestock owners. Therefore, after careful consideration, when movements to livestock markets are permitted in low risk areas we will be relaxing the rules governing drivers' hours. This will help minimise the impact of foot and mouth on the rural economy, as well as protect animal welfare.
"Tiredness is an important road safety issue and rules ensuring hauliers take proper breaks and work sensible hours protect all road users. Therefore this is not a decision that has been taken lightly and it will be carefully monitored."
The changes, which will be in place for one month, will apply only to drivers who are wholly or mainly engaged in transporting cattle, pigs and sheep (including lambs) in connection with meeting the exceptional circumstances arising as a consequence of the foot and mouth outbreak.
* A daily driving limit of 10 hours (instead of the current 9 hours)
* A weekly rest period of 24 hours (instead of the current 45 hours);
* No weekly or fortnightly driving time limits (currently 56 and 90 hours).
Drivers are also subject to the provisions of the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 which impose limits on total working time (i.e. the period when a driver is at work rather than just driving). These Regulations impose a maximum weekly limit of 60 hours. To allow drivers to use the full amount of additional driving time proposed we also intend that the weekly working time limit is raised by 10% from 60 to 66 hours (the maximum permissible under EU legislation).
Notes to Editors
1. There would be no change to the requirements for daily rest and breaks.
2. The need for any extension beyond this period will be considered in the light of the evidence at the time. We will be notifying the European Commission of the relaxation as we are required to do. The European Commission's approval will be required for an extension beyond 30 days.
3. For information on the Foot and Mouth disease Risk Area and Low Risk Area, visit http://www.defra.gov.uk
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