As you may be aware, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been wreaking havoc worldwide at extraordinary rates. While governments across Europe and other parts of the world have imposed police-enforced lockdown and social distancing measures, truck drivers continue to play a crucial role in the society – particularly those delivering essential commodities like food and medicine. Truck drivers are exposed to the risk of catching the virus by the day and potentially exposing those they interact with while working, and their family members whenever they return home. Considering this, we shall go through the rules, changes, and guidance that the governing authorities and industrial players have been championing and implementing in recent times. Though you may have learned a lot from Easy As HGV, the new rule changes are important to know. We aim to ensure that you are well-informed and well-protected every time you hit the road in these unprecedented times.
Are Truck Drivers Key Workers?
Alongside NHS workers, school teachers, and food industry workers, HGV drivers are vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. As per Gov.co.uk, truck drivers delivering commodities like food, medicine, and veterinary essentials are all essential workers.
Adjustment of Driver’s Hours Rules
An increase in the demand for essential goods like food and medicine has seen an equal rise in the demand for truck drivers to deliver these supplies. As such, the Department for Transport has eased previous rules on the riving hours of HGV drivers to help keep up with the demand for essential goods during the pandemic. However, these changes are not bound to affect the drivers’ well-being or road safety. Here are the changes:
- The EU driving limit has been adjusted upwards, from 9 hours to 11 hours a day.
- Daily rest requirements have been adjusted downwards, from 11 hours to 9 hours a day.
- Weekly driving limits have gone up, from 56 hours to 60 hours.
- Fortnightly driving limits have also increased from 90 hours to 96 hours.
- Drivers could take a 45-minute break after every 5.5 hours on the road rather than 4.5 hours.
It is essential that these new rules are observed to prevent the fatigue that could easily be the cause of road accidents. The Department for Transport insists that the safety of drivers must not be compromised. Drivers should not be at the wheel while tired, and employers shall remain responsible for the health and well-being of their workers and other road users.
Adhering to Hygiene Rules While on the Road
Recently, the government has placed several rules for the public to follow to prevent the rapid spread of Coronavirus. However, some of these rules have proven to be difficult to adhere to while on the road.
There are various ways drivers can help lessen the spread of the Coronavirus while on the line of duty:
- Wash your hands thoroughly for about 20 seconds or use an anti-bacterial hand-sanitising gel as often as possible.
- Use disposable gloves when handling goods or refuelling.
- Refrain from touching your face.
- Maintain, at least, a 2-metre distance from other people while out of the truck.
- Cover your mouth and nose using a disposable tissue while coughing or sneezing.
Truck drivers are considered key workers, and the Road Haulage Association has been working in collaboration with Public Health England to ensure that truck drivers are given access to toilets and hand-washing facilities at different distribution stations in the UK. UK Haulier also has a live truck stop finder that may be of help to you in these times.