Q: I read about William and Pippa Funnell being stopped by the Vehicle and Operators Service Agency (VOSA) after Hickstead and wondered how to prepare, should it happen to me.

I am a professional rider and sometimes share the driving of my HGV horsebox with my groom.
OA, Notts

Aside to your query about being stopped by VOSA, it is important to note that your horsebox must be fitted with a tachograph, and that you should hold an operator’s licence.

The current EU regulations on driving limits apply to you because your horsebox exceeds 3.5tonnes and is used for commercial purposes.

You therefore must take care not to exceed the daily and continuous driving limits (of nine hours and 4.5 hours respectively), according to Martin Bourne, partner in the criminal team of equine law specialists Darbys.

“This might be best achieved by sharing the driving with your groom,” he said. “You are at risk of breaching the daily rest period of 11 hours (or 12, if taken in two breaks), as it would require a period of rest within 24 hours of the expiry of the last rest period.

“In view of the nature of your work, it is quite possible you haven’t had a continuous rest period of 11 hours for some time! You should also be careful not to allow your employee to breach regulations.”

Weekly rest period

“You are bound by VOSA to take a weekly rest period of 45 hours at the end of the sixth 24-hour period, following your last such rest period,” said Martin.

“The weekly rest period can be reduced by up to 21-24 hours, so long as the next week’s rest period is at least 45 hours — and you compensate for the reduced hours in the following week.

“Basically, if you drive an HGV horsebox at the weekend, regulations require that you take time off in the week.”

If stopped by a VOSA inspector, you must comply with their request to provide your lorry’s tachograph record, which will prove whether you and your groom have complied with the continuous driving time limit.

“Although it may not conclusively prove any breaches involving omission to take a rest period,” Martin said, “the inspector may seek to ascertain this information by interviewing you under caution at the roadside.

“If in doubt of your position if invited to consent to interview, you should insist upon legal representation, and decline to be interviewed. Let VOSA prove the matters if they can. Legal advice should then be sought as soon as possible.”

Information

Darbys Solicitors LLP, tel: 01865 811700 www.darbys.co.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 October, ’09)

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