Sunday, March 22, 2020

As HGV MOT's Suspended and Truck Driving Hours Amended Comes New Call to Government

Now Pallet Carriers Ask for Fuel Duty Derogation
Shipping News Feature

UK – In light of the myriad problems the Covid-19 epidemic is bringing to the supply chain the government has introduced a range of measures to ensure logistics can continue business as near normal as possible. Not least of these are the suspension of the need for MOT testing of lorries and trailers, and the relaxation of road haulage drivers' hours regulations.

The moves have been given a cautious welcome by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which has been in regular talks with the Department for Transport (DfT). The MOT suspension will run from March 21 for three months and lorries and trailers due for test in the suspension period will be issued with exemptions automatically. Some vehicles, such as those due for their first MOT test and vehicles returning to service with a test certificate that expired before March, will require an application for exemption certificates.

The RHA does have concerns about the three month suspension. The Association believes that roadworthiness testing should recommence as soon as possible using qualified ATF staff operating under delegated authority from the Secretary of State. The RHA believes delegating the testing to qualified staff, in a similar way to that done for car and van MOT’s, would be the most effective and safest way to restore the system. Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said:

“These are unprecedented times that need creative and pragmatic new approaches. It is vital that all vehicles on our roads remain safe to use and their roadworthiness must be maintained at all times. Routine testing is a vital part of our safety culture and we believe it should be restored as soon as possible.

“Authorised delegated testing through the existing testing centres would increase efficiency of the system, will be better for operators and will be the most effective way to recover the system when testing restarts.”

Following calls between Burnett and Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, the Department for Transport has announced that the current limited Drivers’ Hours relaxation will now apply to all road haulage operations from 00.01hrs on Monday 23 March until 23.59hrs on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

This is a further recognition of the importance of road freight in providing all that is needed to keep our shops, hospitals, manufacturers and the rest of economy moving during the coronavirus pandemic by relaxing the Drivers’ Hours regulations. Richard Burnett continued:

“This is a blanket relaxation covering all sectors and recognises how integrated and inter-dependent supply chains are across the whole economy. The sector is working as efficiently and as quickly possible. This relaxation improves resilience in a way that ensure all goods can reach the area where they are needed.

“Shortages are not the problem at the moment, the problem lies with supplying the current excess demand for goods caused by panic buying. This just creates bottlenecks that undermine efficient delivery schedules.

“The relaxation in hours will not reduce the levels of enforcement of the drivers hours. It is vital that companies only use these relaxed rules when needed and companies must monitor drivers to ensure they do not drive tired or in any way unfit. The need for compliance with the rules is absolute. This relaxation must be used wisely, not abused recklessly.

“This is another great example of the close working relationship that we have established with Grant Shapps and his team. When it comes to providing them with ‘grass roots’ industry knowledge, I am pleased that they are sufficiently confident in our understanding of the industry that we are its first port of call.”

Meanwhile RHA members the Association of Pallet Networks (APN), representing the eight largest pallet industry networks has written to Burnett, and the Freight Transport Association (FTA), requesting they call on government to institute a derogation on fuel duty to take the pressure off such an essential supply chain business. With 90% of all logistics movements of general goods requiring stage deliveries by HGVs, APN Chairman, Paul Sanders says:

“A derogation on fuel duty could make a huge difference to business continuity and in minimising the number of losses from our sector. It is imperative we do all we can to ensure business continuity and the protection of vital jobs and distribution services”