With Scotland’s economy, its businesses and most of its population suffering in the grip of abject winter conditions, the extension of a relaxation of drivers’ hours rules – allowing lorry drivers to spend more time driving per day – was a necessary measure wholeheartedly backed by leading trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Chris MacRae, Head of Policy for Scotland, said:
"We are pleased that the Department for Transport – who retain control over this matter – heeded our advice to extend the current GB-wide relaxation of drivers’ hours rules for Scotland because the problems are much more deep seated here than in other parts of GB.
"Hauliers delivering essential products, like heating fuels and animal feed, have described some roads as ‘appalling’ with gridlock causing massive delays within the central belt. Clearly, it makes sense to provide more legal leeway on drivers’ hours."
FTA members, of which there are over 1,000 in Scotland, reported particularly treacherous conditions on the M8, and little evidence of gritting on both the M73 and A80. Due to deliveries taking twice as long in many cases, lorries have been unable to return to their depots. Further problems have been encountered in the heating fuels sector; FTA members have reported delays of up to 12 hours on the roads between Dundee and Grangemouth fuel terminal.
"With reports that some hauliers are unable to collect or return containers, including news that all major whisky suppliers are closed, the economy is taking quite a hit. What the snow fall has writ large is that without lorry drivers, Scotland’s export-led economy simply wouldn’t exist, and in these incredibly tough driving conditions their skill, professionalism and ‘can do’ attitude will prove invaluable to businesses, residents and consumers alike."