Assessing Haulage Safety Rules

The implementation of EU rules designed to protect professional road haulage personnel – such as mandatory working hours, breaks and rest periods – has been analysed by the Commission.

The Report, which looked at Member State implementation during 2011 and 2012, found that the quality and timeliness of Member State submissions have slightly improved, while the proportion of offences detected per working day have decreased for the first time (compared to the last three reporting periods).

Social legislation for haulage personnel was introduced by the EU to ensure that increased competitive pressure from the opening up of transport markets does not lead to compromises in employee safety.

The Report

The Commission Report covers the implementation of EU rules on:
• Driving times, breaks and rest periods for professional drivers (Regulation 561/2006)
• Minimum requirements for enforcement of the rules set out in Directive 2002/15/EC (Directive 2006/22/EC)
• Recording equipment (Regulation 3821/85) 
• Organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities (Directive 2002/15/EC)

The Report is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document, which contains additional information on penalties, cooperation between Member States and detailed statistical data.

National Data Submissions

In the reporting period 2011-2012, the Report finds that the quality and timeliness of submissions by Member States improved as compared to previous reporting periods. This enabled the Commission to put forward more reliable conclusions on the implementation of social legislation in road transport.

With regards to Directive 2002/15/EC however, the Report finds that the quality of submissions “varies significantly”, with the Netherlands simply stating that there were no changes as compared to the previous reporting period.

Data on Checks

Directive 2006/22/EC set threshold criteria for checks that should amount to at least 3% of days worked by drivers. In the reporting period 2011-2012, the number of checks increased by 8.7%, from almost 146 million to around 158.6 million as compared to the previous reporting period.

Meanwhile, the number of enforcement officers diminished. Only a few Member States, namely Greece, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Latvia, still do not comply with the 3% target.

The Report further notes that the proportion of checks performed at the roadside, while slightly decreasing as compared to checks performed at premises, still account for 80% of total checks. For the third time in a row, Member States have fallen behind the target of a 50% minimum percentage of checks at premises (laid down in Directive 2006/22/EC).

In total, 31.7 million working days were checked at premises in 2011-2012, which account for a 20% rise as compared to 2009-2010. At the same time, 146,000 premises were checked, which account for a 42% rise as compared to 2009-2010.

The Report explains this difference in growth as follows: 
• An increase of the minimum threshold from 1% to 2% in 2008 and from 2% to 3% in 2010, together with a decrease of roadside controls leading to an inflation in premises checks
• No change in thresholds in the current reporting period lead to a slower rise of working days checked

On a negative note, the Report points out that, in some countries with a specific size or geographic position, more non-national vehicles or drivers are subject to controls, which, according to the Commission, could infringe the principle of equal treatment of drivers and operators in Member States.

Data on Offences

The proportion of offences detected per working day has decreased from 1.9 offences per 100 working days to 1.74 at roadside, and from 8.65 offences per 100 working days to 5.29 at premises. This is despite the fact that more working days were checked during the last reporting period.

A total of 3.9 million offences were reported by Member States, which marks both a decrease of 14% as regards the previous reporting period and the halting of a six-year long period of constant growth in offences.

The proportion of most detected offences at roadside remains more or less the same, namely driving time (22%), breaks (20%) and rest periods (25%). The proportion of most detected offences at premises include violations of rules on breaks (34%), rest periods (23%), driving time (16%) and driving time records (17%).

The Report concludes that the general decreasing tendency of offences shows that activities aimed at better compliance are starting to yield results, provided that tachograph manipulation practices did not distort significantly the findings enclosed in Member States’ submissions (a tachograph is a device that records a vehicle’s speed and distance, together with the driver's activity).

However, on the negative side, the Report highlights substantial disparities between detection rates per 100 working days, ranging from 0.01 in Bulgaria to 22.38 in Germany. This suggests that the EU is not close to harmonising enforcement provisions of its social legislation relating to road transport.

Organisation of Working Time

While Spain and the Czech Republic raised implementation issues relating to calculating the availability of drivers, Portugal praised positive aspects of the transposition, which clarified some of the ambiguities in the legislation.

The implementation of the Directive has been made easier by some countries, such as Ireland and Sweden, by developing and distributing guidance material to operators.

The Report finds however that no improvement was made in the quality of offences reporting. Indeed, the same few Member States provided data on infringements as compared to the previous reporting period.

Finally, the Report highlights that more stakeholder views have been taken into consideration as compared to the previous reporting period. Stakeholder contributions suggest that EU social legislation contributes to health and safety protection of drivers.

Next Steps

The Commission plans to launch a comprehensive evaluation of the functioning of social legislation in road transport. It will assess the possibility for action in order to ensure that Directive 2006/22/EC is enforced in accordance with the EU principle of non-discrimination.

The threshold of minimum checks of number of days worked by drivers will be raised to 4% once 90% of all vehicles are equipped with a digital tachograph.

The next two-year assessment report on the implementation of social legislation relating to road transport will be issued in 2017.