Driver unable to find safe parking

A recent court case has emphasised the need for a driver to mark the back of his tachograph chart or make a manual entry if there are emergency reasons to depart from the drivers’ hours rules.

Many professional drivers are familiar with arriving at an overnight parking place and finding it full or with parking up for the night and then for some reason or another moving to an alternative parking place.

In a recent case a driver was carrying an abnormal load that needed to be delivered the next morning. The driver intended to stop overnight at a specified abnormal load lay by. When he arrived at the lay by he found that it was full and so went on to the next lay by, parked up and removed his tachograph. However, he felt that this was an unsafe place to stop and so moved on to the nearby Services. He failed to take sufficient daily rest and admitted that he hadn’t made a written note of the reason for the two movements, as he was tired and forgot.

Article 12 of EU Regulation 561/2006 provides that where road safety is not jeopardised and to enable the vehicle to reach a suitable stopping place, the driver may depart from the daily rest requirement to the extent that is necessary to ensure the safety of the driver, of the vehicle or the load. However, the Article makes clear that the driver shall indicate the reason for the departure on the tachograph or the print out, at the latest, on arrival at the suitable stopping place.

The driver argued that he hadn’t acted dishonestly in failing to record the reason and so should not have been prosecuted for failing to take sufficient daily rest. The court disagreed saying that it was clear that if a driver wished to use the exemption then he must comply with the requirement to make a written record of the reason so that this would be available when records are checked. Drivers should remember that the Article 12 provisions are there for only exceptional circumstances and in any investigation VOSA would be entitled to look into the reasons for the driver relying on Article 12.

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