2016.03.24 Piotr Pietrasina

Controls by French authorities – problems with breaks in teams.

Due to a multiplicity of information regarding the topic of large penalties imposed by inspectors in France in the event of controls of drivers performing transport in multi-manning, below we provide the most important information regarding the issue.

The number of controls by French officers who do not accept the availability as a break between driving during the control of drivers who drive in multi-manning has recently increased. This information we lately received from transport companies, transport organizations and from the European Commission.
In such situations, the entire daily driving time is often summed up – treated like continuous driving without a break what leads to exceeding the limit of 4,5 hours of driving by even 5,5 hours! If such situation occurs day after day the sum of penalties for two drivers for the last 28 controlled days can reach even a few to several thousand Euro.
What is very important is that in terms of the rules governing taking breaks no significant changes were introduced in the scope in the last few years.
According to some information appearing on the Internet the inspectors in France invoke point 5 of Article 34 in the new Regulation No 165/2014 according to which the driver is obliged to mark the breaks and rest periods using the symbol of the “bed”.
However, the provisions of the Article apply since 2 March last year, moreover, the described point is identical with the content of Article 15 in the existing Regulation No 3821/85 which had been in force since 1985.

Except for the described Article the definition of “break” laid down in Article 4 of Regulation No 561/2006 in subparagraph (d) is very important.

The definition states that:

‘break’ means any period during which a driver may not carry out any driving or any other work and which is used exclusively for recuperation;

as well as Guideline No 2 by the European Commission according to which:

In the following three cases the time spent travelling can be regarded as ‚rest’ or ‚break’. (…)
The third is where a vehicle is manned by more than one driver. When a second crew member is available for driving when necessary, is sitting next to the driver of the vehicle and is not actively involved in assisting the driver driving the vehicle, a period of 45 minutes of that crew member’s ‚period of availability’ can be regarded as ‚break’.

According to the information we received the European Commission has the same attitude towards this issue and in its submission the rule described in Guideline No 2 should be respected by the officers all over Europe, including France. As a reason, the European Commission is initiating an investigation procedure PILOT intending to clarify if the French authorities have broken the Community provisions.

We note that transport companies can appeal decisions of the French officers resulting from not accepting availabilities in team as breaks in driving, referring to fragments of Regulation 561/2006, quoted above, Guideline No 2 by the European Commission, and the fact that no changes regarding the obligations of the drivers were introduced in the new Regulation 165/2014 in relation to the previous Regulation 3821/85.

Furthermore, according to the information obtained from the European Commission we strongly encourage to submit complaints directly through the Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/applying-eu-law/complaint_form_en.htm

To avoid possible problems during the control of French officers, the drivers performing the transport in team have to take an additional rest lasting for at least 45 minutes after the driving periods of the first and second driver.
It means that after 4,5 hours of driving of the first driver the second driver may immediately drive the vehicle for the next 4,5 hours. Next, they must both take a rest period lasting for at least 45 minutes.

Below there is a chart showing the described way of driving a vehicle by two drivers, driving in multi-manning:


First driver:


  Second driver:


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