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Ask H&H: horsebox driving regulations

Q: There seems to be so much confusion regarding the rules on horsebox driving times – what is the legal position? I work full-time in an office, Monday to Friday, then will often drive our HGV lorry to shows at the weekend. Am I affected by the restrictions?
TM, Bristol

We asked Jacqui Fulton of solicitors Blythe Liggins in Leamington Spa to give H&H her interpretation of the regulations made by the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

“After the H&H article ‘Industry in shock as VOSA changes its mind on lorry regulations’ [5 March], we teamed up with the British Horse Society [BHS], British Equestrian Federation [BEF] and John Parker Transport to lobby the government for a derogation.

“Having seen a response from the Department for Transport (DfT) to the BHS’s letter requesting confirmation of the current legal position, I can confirm:

  • The EU regulation on driver’s hours (Regulation (EC) 561/2006) prescribes maximum limits on driving time and minimum requirements for break and rest periods for most drivers of goods vehicles in excess of 3.5 tonnes.
  • There are some exemptions from EU rules, one of which applies to vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes used for the non-commercial carriage of goods, which will cover persons transporting privately owned horses in a non-HGV. The exemption does not however cover a professional rider, horse dealer, trainer or other person who rides, competes, trains or breeds horses in the course of business – so make sure you are fully aware of the restrictions it imposes.

What is the impact of the driving regulations?

“The DfT says that, for reasons of road safety, drivers of privately owned vehicles over 7.5 tonnes do fall within the scope of the EU rules so must comply with drivers’ hours rules,” said Jacqui.

“The impact of this is that a recreational/hobby rider who works full-time can only drive for one day at the weekend before having to have a weekly rest period of at least 45 consecutive hours.

“This can be reduced to 24 hours every other week provided the reduction is compensated for by an equivalent period of rest taken en bloc before the end of the third week.

“The rules are inconsistent in that they allow a housewife, who works full-time looking after her family, to drive an HGV horsebox on both days at the weekend despite having perhaps worked more hours than a full-time employed office worker. The office worker, however, is restricted by the rules.”

Information

To sign the petition in support of derogation, please go to www.horseandhound.co.uk/vosapetition

Blythe Liggins, tel: 01926 831231 www.blytheliggins.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (16 July, ’09)

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