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ternational operators are facing increasing difficulties dodging between the numerous Sunday and public oliday driving bans which are being imposed on their ucks on the Continent. Where will it all end?
4ip reduction lines throughout Europe are geared towards my lorries loading at ten or eleven o'clock on a Friday night," says Brian Yeardley, a West Yorkshire international haulier operating 70 vehicles. We have only just managed to persuade those in Spain and Italy to load at six or seven o'clock. But we still can't get to a Channel port in time."
Yeardley's difficulties are common to operators who have been hit by the latest French restrictions on the movement of HGVs on a Sunday. But the French ban introduced on 24 March 1997, which withdrew the right of international hauliers to complete their homeward journeys on a Sunday, does no more than bring that country into line with many others in the EU.
Even London bans the general movement of HGVs on Sundays. As things currently stand, individual EU member states are free to introduce legislation restricting the movement of traffic within their own borders provided that it applies to everybody. And there is the problem. In the words of one haulier: "I ought to be able to drive from one end of Europe to the other and know where I stand. If a Sunday ban applied everywhere, I wouldn't like it but at least I would understand it" The situation is not helped by extending the ban to include public holidays which often fall mid-week, may be restricted to a particular region and are sometimes introduced at short notice.
However small the crumb of comfort might seem, European Traffic Commissioner Neil Kinnock is, at least, aware of the situation. In a letter to MEP Peter Crampton, dated 11 July 1996, he wrote: "...it is obvious that the uncoordinated development of driving bans could well affect international road haulage. I am therefore making arrangements to consult with operators and member states in order to examine whether a common action in this field is desirable and possible." the Sunday ban, particularly in France, is not difficult to see. The French ban, for both its own vehicles and foreign ones, comes into effect at 22:00hrs on Saturday (or the eve of a public holiday). If drivers are not to spend their Sundays at some motorway service station area, they need to have cleared French soil by that time.
Manufacturers need to ensure that their production lines continue to operate throughout the working week and many are geared towards completing a weekly cycle, late on Friday evening. Changing that pattern is going to be a long and drawn-out affair. "It's not unusual for our vehicles to be at the loading bay in Barcelona at 06:30hrs for an 08:00hrs load and be made to wait for five or six hours," says one angry West Country haulier. "What has been agreed to in theory can't be met in practice and it means that at 10 o'clock on Saturday night our drivers are stranded, perhaps no more than two hours from the ferry."
And while the situation is bad enough for the individual drivers caught by the restric The following restrictions are known to apply to the movement of vehicles in the EU. Regulations change from time to time; check with the Freight Transport Association International Desk for a more detailed picture. The FTA is about to publish the second edition of its International Road Transport Guide which contains these details.
*Austria: Restriction applies to vehicles with trailers over 3.5 tonnes and all vehicles over 7.5 tonnes from 15:00hrs on Saturday and all day Sundays and PH (public holidays). In addition there are restrictions on night driving for vehicles over 7.5 tonnes with engine power over a certain limit between 22:00hrs and 05:00hrs.
* Belgium: No Sunday restrictions * Denmark: No Sunday restrictions * Eire: No Sunday restrictions * Finland: No Sunday restrictions * France: Restriction applies to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes from 22:00hrs on Saturday to 22100hrs on Sundays and PH. During peak holiday periods the ban extends to the whole of the weekend. Dangerous goods are banned from 12:00hrs on Saturday to midnight on Sunday. There are no exemptions for British drivers returning home.
* Germany: Restriction applies to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and all vehicles towing trailers between 00.01hrs and 22.00hrs on Sundays. Prohibition starts at 07.00hrs on Saturdays between late June and early September and applies to certain autobahns, federal highways etc. Parking restrictions apply to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and trailers over two tonnes on Sundays and PH on roads in built-up areas.
* Greece: No Sunday restrictions appear to apply.
* Italy: Restriction applies to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes on Sundays and PH. Times vary according to the month so drivers should check. This ban does not apply to refrigerated goods but they must carry sign on vehicle to this effect. The ban does not apply to the carriage of perishable goods in general. The Mont Blanc tunnel is closed to HGVs on Sundays and the PH of Italy AND France * Luxembourg: restriction applies to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes from 22:00hrs on Saturday to 22:00hrs on Sundays and PH. During peak holiday periods the ban extends to the whole of the weekend. Dangerous goods are banned from 12:00hrs on Saturday to midnight on Sunday. This ban extends to the PARKING of such vehicles anywhere in the country during the above times.