On 20 April, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport announced details of the legislative steps he has taken in support of the necessary closure of a range of Road Safety Authority services as result of the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
Under the new measures, the following have come into effect in relation to vehicle testing:
- NCT vehicles with a test that was or will be due on or after 28 March 2020 have that test date extended by 4 months
- Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Tests (CVRT) – vehicles with a test that was or will be due on or after 28 March have that test date extended by 3 months
The Minister has also taken the following steps in relation to driver licensing:
- Driving licences due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their date of expiry extended by 4 months
- Learner permits due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had their date of expiry extended by 4 months
- Driver Theory Test certificates due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
- Certificates of Competency – issued when people pass a driving test and required when applying for a first full driving licence - due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
- Initial Basic Training certificates for motorcycle learners due to expire between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 inclusive have had that date extended by 4 months
In addition, and in line with the arrangements previously in place for NCT certificates in relation to private cars, it will no longer be necessary to have a current Certificate of Roadworthiness (CRW) in order to tax a commercial vehicle. Companies should be able to renew the motor tax for a commercial vehicle from 21 April without need of a CRW.
On 15 April, the Irish department of transport agreed to relax rules on driving and rest times for a further 6 weeks. Exemptions will apply from 17 April to 31 May for all haulage activity within the republic of Ireland and are as follows:
- Art. 6.3: the fortnightly driving limit is increased from 90 to 112 hours.
- Art. 8.4: the maximum of three reduced daily rest periods between any two weekly rest periods is increased from three to five; if a driver reaches the maximum of five in the first five days following the end of the previous weekly rest period, and then continues to drive on the sixth consecutive day, his daily log must not exceed thirteen hours for day six.
- Art. 8.6: The current weekly rest rules will continue to apply, but no compensation will be required for a reduced weekly rest period. In any two consecutive weeks, drivers must continue to take at least either two regular weekly rest periods, or one regular weekly rest period and one reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours, whilst ensuring that the weekly rest period starts no later than six 24 hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period.
- Art. 8.8: possibility for the driver to take the regular weekly rest in the vehicle, as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities for each driver and the vehicle is stationary.
The Irish Government have issued special advice about travelling, including restricting movements for 14 days on those entering Ireland who have been to affected areas. Freight transport is exempted. The government published a guidance note for supply chain workers. This document contains about one and half pages of useful guidelines for drivers.
To reduce the risk of infection, the ferry company Seatruck Ferries has temporarily stopped shipping any HGV drivers or any other passengers in their Irish Sea vessels. Accompanied road transport (complete truck combinations with driver) is then stopped until further notice, but the company will continue to carry unaccompanied semi-trailers, containers and swap bodies.
In response to the extraordinary crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Ireland has agreed to a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of driving and rest times rules for the drivers of vehicles engaged in domestic and international goods transport. This relaxation is granted pursuant to Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and applies from 18 March 2020 and will run until 16 April 2020, provided that road safety is not affected [impaired] when transport companies make use of these exemptions. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users. For the above mentioned category of drivers, the following provisions will be temporarily relaxed as follows:
- Derogation to Art. 6(3): the fortnightly driving limit is lifted from 90 hours to 112 hours.
- Derogation to the Art. 8(6): in any two consecutive weeks a driver shall take at least two reduced weekly rest periods whilst maintaining the rule that a weekly rest period shall start no later than at the end of six 24-hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period. There shall be no requirement for compensation or for a regular weekly rest period to be taken.