Reimbursement for lengthy loading and unloading times
Reimbursement for loading and unloading wait times is on its way in a decree issued by the Ministry of Transport; the deductable will be two hours. New additions also to the road safety management decree
by Paola Castiglia
For the customer, the cost of reimbursing time lost by the transporter should be around 40 euros an hour. This amount is not given in the text of the law, but, as far as we understand, it will be decided at the next meeting of the Observatory on road transport costs.
It was a long time coming. It should have been covered by a law that is now a year old. But now it is a reality. Road transporters will be reimbursed for delays in loading and unloading: the deductable for loading and unloading heavy vehicles will be two hours. It has been established in a decree issued by the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport on 24 March 2011. For the customer, the cost of reimbursing time lost by the transporter should be around 40 euros an hour. This amount is not given in the text of the law, but, as far as we understand, it will be decided at the next meeting of the Observatory on road transport costs.
A deductable in cases of excessive loading and unloading wait times at ports and interports was eagerly-awaited by the sector and had already been identified as a necessity in law 127/2010, the outcome of an agreement between the government and road transport which appeared in the Official Gazette of 4 August 2010.
The decree was strongly recommended by Undersecretary Giachino and with the introduction of the deductable for truck loading and unloading wait times, he has also acquired an essential tool for ongoing negotiations with trade associations agitating at the ports of Genoa and Naples.
The practical effects of the provision
The possibility of establishing a deducible will ensure that trucks waiting for operations to be completed will be paid after the first two hours: "Customers will be encouraged to reduce times so that they won't have to pay", the Undersecretary stated. There is no desire to punish customers, Giachino explained to us: "The newly issued management decree was provided for in paragraph 5 of article 6-bis of the legislative decree of summer 2010 and it must operate within the limits of the regulation and absolutely cannot overstep them".
Giachino continued: - "not only: implementation [of the decree] is only and exclusively by the parties of the transport contract, in other words, by the transporter and the customer and not by any parties outside that relationship".
In effect, it would be absurd if it were possible to dictate provisions that differed from those of the regulation simply by applying the same issuing power to a managerial decree concerning bodies, administrations and/or third parties and the contractual relationship between the transporter and the customer. Therefore there is no direct involvement of ports or interports.
According to the road transporter associations, however, the scope of the regulation is extremely clear: the transporter who is delayed because of loading and unloading operations has the right to reimbursement after the first two hours. The legislator's use of the term reimbursement rather than compensation is not by accident, because reimbursement does not imply the assessment of fraudulent and/or culpable behaviour, which would be at the sole expense of the customer, even if he is not responsible for the delay.
It is obvious that ordinary civil criteria do not exclude actions by the customer against the party who caused the delay, which would require subjective and objective proof in order to ascertain responsibility.
As this stage concerns private relationships that are not part of the transport contract, the legislator certainly did not intervene nor would he have been able to do so.
• Commercial transport in the road safety managerial decree approved by the Senate
Driving and rest times with fines determined by the seriousness of the infringement. Just cause dismissal of truck and bus drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol. Professional drivers can no longer drink during working hours (not even beer). Mandatory anti drug and alcohol certification when applying for or renewing top category driving licences and professional qualification.
The age limit for driving a heavy vehicle is 70 (instead of 65) and escorts for exceptional transport will only be technical. These are some of the new additions regarding commercial transport included in the road safety Management Decree approved by the Senate. The provisions should now return to the Chamber for final approval, but Montecitorio will not make further amendments to the text, which is the result of very long mediation between the majority and the opposition.
Driving times. A Government-approved amendment introduces more graduated fines for breaches of Community rules concerning driving times and breaks for drivers of commercial or public vehicles. According to the new scheme, heavier fines of 220 to 800 euros (and 5 points subtracted from the licence) will be imposed on those who do not get sufficient rest; a fine of 38 to 152 euros (and 2 points subtracted from the licence) will be imposed on those whose driving hours were exceeded only slightly because of traffic or a lack of stopping places. The fines increase with the seriousness of the infringement.
Just cause dismissal. This could be incurred by professional drivers whose licence has been suspended for excess levels of alcohol.
No drinking and driving. Already introduced by the Chamber, this measure forbids the drivers of trucks, buses or coaches to consume even one glass of wine. In addition to the fine, the licence could be suspended.
Anti drug and alcohol tests. These are mandatory for all licence types (from B to D) and for professional qualification. The medical certificate declaring no alcohol and drug dependency must be presented with each application for renewal.
A truck driver until 70. The Senate approved the extension of the age limit for professional drivers. Top category licences can be renewed up to the age of 70 (instead of 65) with annual checks between 65 and 70.
Exceptional transport. Only technical escorts are now required for exceptional transport. The Senate accepted a request to eliminate traffic police escorts in order to streamline the procedures for this type of service.
• World recession and road transport according to Eurostat
The recession that affected European countries also had a profound effect on the road and rail transport of goods with a downturn, respectively, of 10% and 17%. The figure, which refers to 2009, was published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. After years of positive trends, the first drop in the volume of goods transported was recorded in 2008, a downturn of 2% for both road and rail transport. According to the statistical office, small signs of recovery were seen during the first three months of 2010, when road transport increased by 3% and rail by 8%. During the second six months, the recovery was consolidated with growth of 4% and 14%, respectively. The transport of goods is still four times higher by road than by rail. In Italy, in 2009 road transport dropped by 7.1%, whereas the decline in rail transport was 25.3%. The EU countries with the largest downturn were Romania (-39%), Latvia (-34%), Estonia, Ireland and Cyprus (-27%) for road transport and Bulgaria (-33%), Belgium (-29%), Luxemburg and Spain (-28%), and Romania (-27%) for rail transport. Italy and 5 other countries (France, Germany, Poland, Great Britain and Spain) account for 70% of all goods transported by road in the EU.