Driving regulations affecting your coach and minibus hire in Europe vol.1
Your coach and minibus hire in Europe can be affected by strict driving regulation as they apply to all passenger vehicles over 3.5 tones or more than 9 seats including the driver (minivans with less than 9 seats are not affected). The aim of this set of rules is to avoid distortion of competition, improve road safety and ensure drivers’ good working conditions within the European Union.
Digital tachographs is fitted in all vehicles and drivers have digital cards which needs to be inserted into this device at all times to record all working hours, breaks and rests periods for up to 28 days. The tachograph device itself records the data for up to 2 years. Throughout the this periods, a driver or a company can be fined either on the spot, via regular police checks, or at the location of the company by the government authorities. The fines and penalties are severe and can be in thousands of Euros even for a small breach of the driving regulations. In most severe cases, vehicles can be clamped on the spot and not allowed to continue, or a driver can be held by the police for up to 45 hours. For this reason, all of the driving regulations need to be strictly adhered to and drivers have the obligation to refuse any requests that could result in a breach of these regulations.
The basic rules are the following:
- Following a driving period of 4 hrs 30 mins, a driver must take an uninterrupted break of
not less than 45 minutes
- Maximum driving time per day for a driver is 9 hours (extension of up to 10 hours per day is possible twice a week). For this reason a coach can usually cover maximum 700 km in a day with one driver depending on the road conditions.
- Between two shifts (night break) a driver must have 11 consecutive hours of rest. This can be reduced to 9 hours 3 times per week.
- Maximum permitted driving time within a working week is 56 hours.
Maximum accumulated driving time within a period of two working weeks: 90 hour
One driver is allowed maximum 12 consecutive live days of touring
Breaks and maximum driving time per day are fairly easy to manage due to the nature of the tours. The breaks have to be taken regularly anyway for clients comfort and also a touring coach or minibus in Europe rarely covers more than 600 km in one day.
However, night breaks can be a bit tricky if the client is requesting early or late services such as airport transfers on the first and the last day of the tour.If for example, arrival of the group is at 23:00 with check in to the hotel at 0:00, the driver cannot start the services next day earlier than 09:00, provided his accommodation is with the group.
The same applies for early departures. If the groups’ flight is 7:00 with a departure from the hotel at 3:00, the driver has to start his daily rest period of minimum 9 hours earlier, which means at least by 18:00 the day before. In addition, if the drivers hotel is not with the group, the daily rest period has to start as to accommodate for additional time for getting to and back from his hotel. This means that late services on the last day of the tour such as driving a group to a restaurant cannot be provided or other arrangements, such as restaurant in walking distance to the hotel, have to be made.
As our price quotations for are usually made at early stage when the flight details are not available, the tour organisers should inform us and highlight this information as soon as it is available, so the additional cost is calculated or the itinerary is changed to meet the driving regulation.
As complicated as the above sounds, the regulations are quite well thought through and they usually do not put any time strain during the tour. However, itineraries should be well planned and tour leaders or lead passengers need to cooperate with drivers during the tours.
We are always here to help you to plan your tours and we will comment or notify you if your travel plans are in breach of driving regulations.