It can be challenging to get your head around HGV driver hours regulations. The intricacies of these regulations, can be very difficult to get to grips with. Of course, they’re in place for very good reason – the safety of drivers and those around them – so it is vital that fleet operators and drivers familiarise themselves with this regulatory regime. Authorised examiners are able to establish breaches of driver working hours regulations by checking tachograph data.
But the answer to the question posed above is in fact quite straightforward:
A HGV driver can get no less than nine hours’ daily rest within a 24-hour period up to three times in a week. This means that drivers can work three 15-hour days within the space of a week. This article will provide further insight into just what hours HGV drivers should be working, and what regulations are in place to ensure they get adequate rest.
A breakdown of driving hours and breaks:
- The regulations stipulate that drivers can only drive for four-and-a-half hours (either continuously or in successive periods) before taking a statutory break of at least 45 minutes.
- This break can be split into two, provided the first break is at least 15 minutes and the second part at least 30 minutes.
- The overall weekly driving limit is a maximum of 56 hours.
- The standard maximum daily driving time is nine hours a day, although there is dispensation to increase this to ten hours within the space of a single fixed week.
- The maximum driving time over a single fortnight is 90 hours. Therefore, if a driver drove 56 hours in one week, he must drive only 34 hours in either the preceding or following week.
Driver rest periods:
- Ordinarily, every member of the crew must take a minimum of 11 hours’ rest between working days in every 24-hour period
- However, this can be lowered to at least nine hours a maximum of three times between two weekly rest periods
- Drivers can work three 15-hour days within the space of a week
- Furthermore, daily rest periods can be taken in two separate periods, so long as the first is a minimum of three hours and the second a minimum of nine
- Each crew member must have a weekly continuous rest period of 45 hours. While this can be reduced to 24 hours in one week, every driver must have at least one 45-hour break over the course of a fortnight.
- Where a weekly rest period has been reduced, it must be compensated through the addition of another rest period of nine hours. This must be done by the end of the third week following the week concerned.
- Where vehicles are double-manned – in other words, having two drivers – both drivers must get at least nine hours’ rest each within 30 hours, allowing them each to be on duty for a maximum of 21 hours.
Train and ferry trips
- Those drivers making national or overseas trips involving the use of a ferry or train may interrupt their mandated rest period to embark and disembark from the ferry or train, or to perform any customs requirements.
- They may do this once or twice for up to one hour.
Pay, exemptions and penalties
Pay and bonuses
Drivers’ pay must not be linked to distance travelled, unless this specifically does not encourage drivers to overwork – in other words, drivers must not be offered more pay the further they go, as this may risk encouraging them to breach statutory requirements relating to working and rest periods.
Legislation and exemptions
Drivers may exceed driving times to reach a suitable stopping point in the event of an emergency, provided that road safety is not jeopardised as a result.
Most vehicles used for the transport of goods - where the vehicle’s maximum permissible weight exceeds 3.5 tonnes (including trailers) and where the vehicle is used within the UK or travelling between the UK and EU/EEA countries, or Switzerland – are subject to EC Regulation 561/2006.
The Transport Act 1968 applies to those vehicles exempt from this due to the type of work they do or their size. Drivers subject to the terms of this legislation are restricted to a) up to 10 hours’ driving per day and b) up to 11 hours’ duty per day. Those drivers who drive for less than four hours a day are exempt from the 11-hour limit.
It should be noted, however, that drivers who undertake mixed journeys may be subject to both the Transport Act and Regulation 561/2006 within the space of a single working day. So if a driver was to drive a vehicle subject to 561/2006 for 8 hours, the same person could then drive a vehicle subject to the Transport Act for an additional two hours in the same day.
Operators and drivers alike are liable to prosecution for breaches of driver working hours regulations. The former may also be prosecuted for the actions of agency drivers in this regard. The maximum fine for each offence is £2,500, while operators may have their operator licence suspended, curtailed or even revoked. Drivers too may be subject to licencing curbs.
Drivers who repeatedly exceed working hours restrictions may be called to give an account of themselves to the Traffic Commissioner.
We advise that prior to implementing any process relating to driver hour’s compliance, businesses should consult the government website: https://www.gov.uk/drivers-hours/overview.
That’s certainly a lot to take in, and fleet managers could be forgiven for wondering just how they’re supposed to ensure compliance given the proliferation of regulations and restrictions surrounding driver working hours. Tachograph technology has evolved over the years to help fleet managers access driver hours information and simplify the process of complying with driver hours legislation.
Our DIRECTOR for Transport telematics solution, has been designed to meet the needs of the transport industry, bringing together driver hours management, fleet performance monitoring, job despatch and integrated dash-cams into a single platform. Take a look here and see how it could help your business.
Disclaimer – the information offered in this article is a representation of driver hours laws at the time of publishing, you should seek independent advice or reference the governments website https://www.gov.uk/drivers-hours/overview prior to implementing any processes.