Lorries at a truck stop in the UK.

ECJ says lorry drivers cannot take their weekly rest in their vehicle

  • February 1, 2018

Lorry drivers should not be allowed to take their mandatory weekly rest in their vehicles, the European Union’s highest court has ruled.

Under EU rules (2006/561/EU), drivers must have a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and a regular weekly rest period of 45 hours. The driver can choose to take their daily rest or a reduced weekly rest period in the vehicle only if it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

A Belgian transport company brought a case in 2014 seeking to annul a Belgian law that imposes a EUR 1,800 euro fine if a truck driver takes a regular weekly rest period in the vehicle.

A Belgian court asked the EU court to determine whether the EU law contained an implied ban on taking the standard weekly rest period in the vehicle.

The EU court said the EU law only referred to the possibility of a reduced weekly rest of 24 hours, allowed under certain circumstances in the vehicle, so it therefore meant this should not apply to the standard 45-hour break.

If it were allowed, then the driver would be able to spend all rest periods in the vehicle, which would not improve drivers’ working conditions as the EU law intended.

The European Commission announced plans to update rules on driver hours and tachographs in May last year.  ETSC is calling for the rules to be extended to van drivers.  ETSC has also voiced its concern that the proposed changes could lead to drivers being more fatigued at certain times of the month as rest periods risk being concentrated together leading to drivers working for longer periods in between.