Road transport is subject to domestic legislation dating from the 1930s and European Union legislation prescribing common EU standards.
The European Communities (Road Transport) Regulations apply to the carriage of goods and passengers by road within the EU. They apply the provisions of the European agreement concerning the work of crew and vehicles engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) to certain international road transport operation.
It prescribes a range of matters including minimum ages, provisions regarding arrangements, duty rosters, service timetables and recording equipment for verification. The Regulations provide powers for authorised officers to enforce and provide for penalties and exemption.
States may exempt vehicles engaged in certain national operations from the regulations. The domestic regulations exempt the following:
- where the carriage of goods is wholly within the State.
- vehicles carrying passengers adapted for carrying no more than 17 persons.
- public authority vehicles which do not compete with private hauliers.
- agriculture, forestry, horticultural or fisheries vehicles within a 50 kilometre radius of where it is normally based.
- vehicles for carrying animal waste and carcasses not for human consumption
- vehicles for carrying live animals to and from slaughter houses and markets.
- vehicles used as shops for door to door selling, mobile banking, worship, lending of books, records or cassettes or cultural events
- vehicles for carriage of goods less than 3048 kilogram used for carrying material within a 50 kilometre radius of normal base.
- vehicles operated exclusively on islands less than 2,300 square kilometres.
- vehicles used for the carriage of goods less than 1,524 kilograms unladen propelled by gas or electricity.
- vehicles for driving instruction.
- tractors exclusively used for forestry or agricultural work.
There are certain exemptions from the minimum driving ages and rest periods in respect of international transport to and from Northern Ireland.
Contravention or permitting any person employed to contravene the road transport legislation is an offence. It is an offence to obstruct an authorized officer who may enter premises which he believes is used for a purpose connected with carriage by road. He may inspect and remove documents, books and records or equipment kept there.
An authorised officer may inspect a vehicle which is stationary. If a member of An Garda Síochána or a customs and excise officer in uniform halts a vehicle, he may inspect any documents, books, records and recording equipment in it. Any person at a premises or place or n the vehicle, must produce the requisite documents, books and records under his control.
An officer may inspect, examine and take copies of extracts from books, records and documents for the purpose of the legislation. A vehicle may be detained during the time required to exercise the power. Any obstruction or interference with the authorised officer is an offence. Any failure to comply with a notice in writing given by an authorised officer is an offence.
There are special provisions regarding evidence of breaches of the legislation. Certain presumptions apply which place the onus of proof on the accused/defendant. Statements contained in documents, books and records are admissible as proof of their content.
Carriage by road means any journey made on roads open to the public of a vehicle whether laden or not, used for the carriage of passengers or goods. Vehicles include trailers and semi-trailers.
The AETR applies instead of the EU rules where transport is to and from third countries who are contracting parties to the agreement or where transit through such countries is involved. It also applies to operations to and from a third country which is not a contracting party, in case of any journey made within the EU where operations are carried out by vehicles registered in one of the countries.
The minimum age for drivers engaged in the carriage of goods is prescribed. In the case of smaller vehicles of not more than 7.5 tons, the minimum age as 18 years. In the case of other vehicles it is 21 years unless the person is between 18 and 21 and holds a certain certificate of competence.
A driver engaged in the carriage of passengers must be at least 21. In the case of a driver engaged in the carriage of passengers of journeys beyond 50 kilometres from base , he must have at least 1 years’ experience in the carriage of goods as a driver of vehicles with a permissible maximum weight of 3.5 tons.
He must have worked for a year as a driver of
- vehicles which provide passenger services of vehicles within 50 kilometres or
- other vehicles not subject of EU regulations provided the authority considers he has the necessary experience or
- he must hold a certificate of professional competence recognized by one of the EU states confirming he has completed a course meeting certain criteria.
The minimum age for driver’s mates and conductors is 18 years. The minimum age may be reduced to 16 years for drivers mates for transport operations are within 50 kilometres of base.
The period of driving rests are prescribed. See our separate chapters in relation to EU rules. Payment which are related to distance travelled or the amount of goods carried are prohibited unless they are of such a kind is not to endanger road safety.
The requirements of the regulations may be deviated from, provided road safety is not jeopardized where it is necessary to reach a suitable stopping place. The nature and reason for the departure from the rules must be recorded in the recording equipment.
In the case of regular national passenger services or international passenger services whose routes terminate within a distance of 50 kilometres from the frontier between two states, and whose route does not exceed 100 kilometres, a service timetable and duty roster should be drawn up. The duty roster will show the various periods of driving for the work and availability. It must cover both the current week, the preceding and following week. Duty are rosters be signed by the head of the business or his authorized agent. Each driver must carry an extract from the duty roster. The duty roster must be retained for certain periods.
There are mandatory provisions regarding recording equipment. The regulations specify the competent authority’s powers is to approve fitters and workshops for the installation, repairs and inspection of tachographs. There are powers for enforcement of the regulations, penalties for infringement and to specify operations which may be exempt.
Generally recording equipment of the required types must be installed in most vehicles registered in the state which are used for the carriage of passengers or goods by road. There are procedures for approval of the recording equipment and record sheets. The responsibilities of businesses, employers and drivers regarding use of the equipment is specified. Certain exemptions apply similar to those set out above. See above regarding exemptions.
There is an obligation to install the equipment. Record sheets must be returned by drivers. The owners of vehicles must arrange periodic checks and inspections. There are provisions regarding the installation of the equipment itself.
It is not permitted to use a vehicle which is not fitted with the requisite recording equipment. It is an offence to make a false entry. There are provisions making it an offence to obstruct an authorized officer or failed to comply with the requirements of an authorized officer in the course of his exercise of his powers.
The recording equipment must meet certain standards provided in the EU regulations. There are provisions regarding approval and certification of the equipment. It is the responsibility of the employer and driver to ensure the equipment functions correctly. Drivers and employers have obligations in respect of making and maintaining records.
The Road Traffic Act makes provision in relation to excessive periods of driving in respect of national journeys which are not subject to EU law. The regulations provide for minimum driving periods, breaks etcetera. It is an offence to permit breach of legislation.
The Minister may appoint transport officers for the purpose of enforcement of road transport legislation. This covers both domestic and EU legislation.
Officers have powers of entry to places used in connection with road transport operations or the places where vehicles documents or records are kept. They may inspect vehicles, documents, records and books and require persons at the premises to produce records to them. They may inspect, take away and examine, extracts any books and records. It is an offence to obstruct an officer or fail to cooperate.
Transport officers may obtain search warrants where there are grounds for believing that a premises is used in connection with road transport business, where a vehicle is at the premises, where information required for inspection is kept or where an offence in connection with road transport has been or is being committed. The Minister may bring prosecution.
The International Carriage of Goods by Road Act gives effect to the convention relating to the carriage of goods by road. (This is the CMR convention.)
The Road Transport Act 1999 is not permitted to operate a vehicle with a carriage of passengers or merchandise unless a transport disk issued in accordance with the regulations is held in respect of the vehicle. This must be displayed on the vehicle in accordance with instructions provided by the Minister. It must be readily visible.
There is an obligation to maintain a vehicle plate. Failure to display it or allowing to become unreadable is an offence.
Where a member of an Garda Siochana has reasonable grounds for believing a person is committing or has committed an offence under road transport legislation, the member may deliver to the person an on-the-spot fine notice. If it is paid within 21 days, a prosecution is not instituted. The provision applies to offences declared by regulation to be subject to this procedure under the Road Transport Act, the EU legislation or the Transport Act 1944.
The 1986 legislation increased the penalties generally
The Minister may appoint transport officers for the purpose of enforcement of road transport legislation. They have a range of enforcement powers under the Road Transport Acts, transport acts EU regulations and other legislation relating to the carriage of goods.
They may enter premises where they have reasonable grounds for believing a road transport business is being undertaken, including the engagement or use by a person in the premises of services of an undertaking for the carriage by road for reward or that a vehicle used for that purpose is at the premises.
He may inspect vehicles, documents, books, records etc. They may require persons to produce documents, books and records. They may examine, take copies of documents etc. It is an offence to interfere with a transport officer. They may not enter a private dwelling house without the consent of the occupier without a warrant. The District Court may grant a search warrant.
The Road Safety Authority may bring and prosecute summary offences under the Road Transport Act, EU regulations and equivalent provisions.
The Minister may by order specify legislation, for the purpose of which transport officers may exercise their powers and the Road Safety Authority may bring prosecution.
A member of an Garda Siochana may arrest the person who has committed offences under the legislation (domestic or EU). The member may require of such person his name and address and if he gives a name and address outside the State, may require him to give an address within the State which is satisfactory and may if such person fails to give his name or address or gives an address he believes to be false or misleading or fails to give an address within the state or there is doubt about whether it is satisfactory for the services for summons may arrest such person without warrant.
An address may be unsatisfactory if it appears to the member that the person will not be at the address for a sufficiently long period for him to be possible be served with the summons or that some other person specified by the first mentioned person will accept service.
Where a person fails or refuses to give his names and address or gives a false or misleading name and address, he is guilty of an offence subject on summary conviction up to €625.