From the Frontline: Operators reluctant to utilise extended drivers' hours


Despite rules on drivers’ hours being relaxed operators are still reluctant to extend their driver’s working days.

Several operators contacted by Commercial Motor have spoken of how they are still rigidly adhering to the standard drivers’ hours regulations.

“There’s been a relaxation in the drivers’ hours, and in my opinion that is ridiculous,” said Justin Armstrong, chairman of Armstrong Logistics. “If it’s not safe for a driver to drive more than 4.5 hours then it’s not safe. It is the haulier’s responsibility to plan the routes effectively, so they can plan the routes within the time allowed.”

WE Deane MD, Rob Falconer, is in agreement: “My stance has been to stick with the original rules and we won’t deviate from them. We will follow the normal drivers’ hours as that is the safest and most sensible thing to do.”

Department for Transport data reveals that road traffic has reduced by two thirds in the past month since the country went into lockdown. As a result, journey times are more consistent, and many operators are no longer quite as stretched when it comes to driving time.

“With the roads being quieter you can get a very predictable arrival time now,” Armstrong added.

“Normally you see such big fluctuations but it’s certainly a lot easier at the moment and it just feels like the drivers’ hour change isn’t necessary. The problem is going forward, if it is deemed okay for these relaxations now, how do we do back? Potentially some hauliers might push the limits of legislations. The last thing we want is another death on the highway because of a truck. Safety takes precedent and I don’t want one of my drivers to be responsible for another human being’s life. The safety of the general public goes beyond hand sanitiser. We think it is our duty of care to not extend their driving hours beyond the norm. I can understand why other might, but I don’t agree with it.”

New height-adjustable trailer from Don-Bur

Don-Bur has launched a new trailer design which provides its tri-axle Lifting Deck trailer with an expanding roof facility for the first time. The new trailer, the first example being supplied to a well-known parcel carrier, provides a 7.8% increase in headroom for workers during loading, while still be able to travel with an overall height of 4.5m. Being 350mm lower than a conventional double-decker, the aerodynamic improvement is expected to provide a 5% fuel saving.

The key to the trailer’s flexibility, the innovative roof raising and clamping mechanism, is the subject of a patent application.

While not suitable for every application, it should appeal to operators with lower profile pallets and cages, or loose loads. It should also provide benefits to operators switching between the UK and Northern Ireland, with its 4.65m height restriction.

Don-Bur chairman David Burton said “This development was in response to a customer need as many of our innovations are. We were very proud to deliver a unique, simple and robust mechanism that gives the client greater flexibility, improved safety, enhanced aerodynamics and optimum value.”