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What regulations govern a professional driver sleeping in the car?

>Years ago, sleeping in the car was an integral part of the work of a professional driver in international transport. Truck tractors and trucks have special cabins with a place to sleep, thanks to which the costs associated with the transport of goods are reduced to some extent. The current regulations regarding professional drivers sleeping in the car depend on the country in which the driver is located. What regulations regarding sleeping in the car apply in Poland and how do they differ from the regulations in other countries?

Standards governing rest on the road

One of the basic employee rights is the right to rest. It usually occurs through days off from work, holidays and breaks in working time. Every employee is legally guaranteed 11 hours of daily rest. This also applies to professional drivers who do not have to perform any work-related activities during their rest. Daily rest can be taken according to one of two variants:

  • uniform – at least 11 hours of rest after a working day
  • divided into two parts: minimum 3 hours one and minimum 9 hours the second

It is also possible to take a shortened daily rest, which lasts 9 hours. However, it can be taken up to 3 times between two weekly rest periods. If the rest pertains to domestic transport, it can be carried out by sleeping in the car.

Weekly rest – professional driver

The driver is entitled to a weekly rest after every 6 cycles of work. As such, for every two weeks of active work, the driver is entitled to at least two weekly rest periods. They may be:

  • regular –  no less than 45 hours of rest
  • shortened – not less than 24 uninterrupted hours.

If the rest lasts longer than 45 hours, it has to occur in a place with adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities. In practice, this imposes an obligation on Polish transport companies that send drivers to other countries to organize accommodation for them in a hotel, home or even a friend’s apartment.

Also read: How to search for car transport orders

Sleeping in the car – can a professional driver sleep in the cabin?

In line with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Poland, a truck driver can sleep in the cabin, but must be paid a lump sum due to the employer’s failure to provide accommodation. However, this applies to daily rest. As for weekly rest, the driver must be provided with appropriate sanitary and sleeping conditions, which completely excludes sleeping in the car. This is one of the changes introduced by the mobility package. Some companies try to circumvent this rule by arranging overnight stays in parking lots equipped with toilets, a shower and a restaurant. However, it should be emphasized that, according to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the EU countries there is an absolute ban on spending regular weekly rest periods in the vehicle.

Is it legal to sleep in the car?

Sleeping in a car in Poland is not prohibited. As a rule, you can sleep anywhere where you can legally park your car. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, resulting from separate regulations governing parking lots and parking spaces. Particularly noteworthy here are forest parking lots, which often prohibit parking at night, or directly indicate that sleeping is prohibited.

What do the regulations in Poland and Europe say about sleeping in the car?

In Polish law, there is no regulation that prohibits sleeping in the car when it is parked. Thus, we can assume that if something is not prohibited, it is allowed. Of course, provided that our behaviour does not infringe upon anyone’s assets, applicable regulations or regulations of specific parking lots.

Sleeping in the car –  Germany and Austria

In the case of Germany and Austria, sleeping in a passenger car is only allowed on public roadside parking lots and gas stations. You can stay in a given place for a maximum of one night.

Sleeping in the car –  Scandinavian countries

Sweden, Norway and Finland are famous for their liberal approach to sleeping “in the wild”. Sleeping in a car in Scandinavia is legal, provided you keep a distance of 150 meters from residential buildings.

Check out: Driver card – what it is and how to obtain it

What are the penalties for failing to comply with regulations?

The highest penalties for sleeping in a car apply in France, where there is a penalty of up to 30,000 euros or even 1 year of imprisonment. Slightly milder penalties apply in Belgium, where a fine of 1,800 euros applies for sleeping in the cabin. Taking a 45-hour rest in the cabin is also prohibited in Germany, where the penalty for the driver is EUR 500, while the carrier is fined EUR 1,500. A professional driver is also not allowed to sleep in the car in the UK, where there is a £300 fine for breaking the ban. An additional sanction may also be imposed on the carrier, who is at risk of losing their good reputation.

The Netherlands and Austria are an interesting case because the local regulations prohibit taking a 45-hour rest in a truck cabin, yet it is not enforced by local authorities.