Changes in transport law in France. New rules for rest and overnight stays in buses
Over the last two months, the French authorities have made some important changes to the operation of transport within the country. On 24 August, Decree 2020-1088 was published, which introduced new offences relating to the taking of rest by drivers, while 9 days later, by Decree 2020-1104, France imposed restrictions on drivers of commercial vehicles (so-called ‘bus drivers’). In all cases, infringements are subject to severe penalties.
Rest rules for lorry drivers
Decree 2020-1088 introduces into French legislation 2 new offences concerning the taking of weekly rest by drivers. The new restrictions are intended to prevent the excessive postponement of rest periods. The authorities have also introduced new penalties for breaking these rules. The offences concern two areas:
1) Delay of less than 12 hours in taking a weekly rest after six consecutive 24-hour periods from the previous weekly rest period. This offence is subject to a fine of EUR 750.
2) Delay of 12 hours or more in the obligation to take a weekly rest after six consecutive 24-hour periods from the previous weekly rest period. For the offence in question, the fine is EUR 1,500.
In accordance with Regulation (EC) 561/2006, a weekly rest period must be taken no later than at the end of six 24-hour periods (from the end of the previous weekly rest period).
Overnight stay in commercial vehicles (buses)
Further changes, this time concerning the ban on overnight stays in delivery vans (up to 3.5 t) were introduced on 2 September by Decree 2020-1104. The new rules apply from 3 September 2020. From that moment on, forcing drivers to spend breaks in vehicles is treated as a class 5 offence (non-compliance with the provisions of Article L. 3313-4 of the Transport Code, introduced by Article 102 of the Mobility Act).
For a carrier, in practice, this means a penalty of EUR 1.5 thousand if:
– the employer forces his employee to take daily or weekly rest in the vehicle,
– the employer forces drivers to spend these rest periods in a place that does not provide safety or comfort and hygiene conditions that respect their health,
– the driver will not be able to justify that he has spent the rest in appropriate conditions.
There are no derogations from the new guidelines. Under the new rules, good vehicle conditions and sanitary facilities in lorry parks do not meet the requirements of the new French law. This means that drivers are strictly prohibited from staying overnight in cars. The only exceptions are drivers who are self-employed, but only if they are not employed by another company.
It should also be taken into account that the control services are not only authorized to check the conditions of current rest. Officers – such as the gendarmerie or transport inspectorates – may request confirmation that previous rest periods for drivers in France have taken place under appropriate conditions. For this reason, receipts and confirmations must be kept to prove proper accommodation.
Looking for a suitable car park with accommodation? Find it through the TransParking application.