The European Working Time Directive stipulates a host of regulations with regard to working hours. The Working Time Regulations – which enshrine the European Working Time Directive into UK law – stipulate limitations on the number of hours employees can work in a week, and also lay down requirements in relation to holidays, rest periods and more. As delivery drivers (especially those who work over long distances) often work for particularly long hours, these regulations are especially relevant to fleet operators. It is essential that fleets ensure strict compliance with these regulations, as failure to abide by them can result in heavy fines for operators.
Q. What are the regulations relating to HGV driver hours?
A. The Working Time Directive includes various restrictions in relation to HGV driver hours. For example, HGV drivers can work no more than 56 hours in a single week and 90 hours over a fortnight. They can drive for a maximum period of four-and-a-half hours (whether continuously or in successive periods) before they are obliged to take a statutory break of at least 45 minutes. This break period can be split into two, provided that the first part is at least 15 minutes and the second at least 30 minutes. There is a standard maximum daily driving time of nine hours, though there is also dispensation to increase this to 10 hours within a single fixed week. For more information, please see our guide to HGV driver hours.
Q. How are employers responsible for monitoring drivers’ working hours?
A. Firms that employ drivers are obliged to make sure that these employees abide by the Working Time Regulations and don’t exceed the relevant limits. Those who fail to ensure their drivers abide by these regulations could be subject to prosecution with unlimited fines. The process of ensuring compliance with the Working Time Regulations has however been greatly simplified through the introduction of telematics technology. Fleet managers can now use telematics systems to access and monitor information on driver hours, better enabling them to ensure that
Q. What is the relationship between driver fatigue and road accidents?
A. According to research from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Road Accidents (RoSPA), driver fatigue could be a contributory factor in up to 20 per cent of road traffic accidents. In addition, accidents resulting from driver fatigue are around 50 per cent more likely to cause death or serious injury. This is because drivers who have fallen asleep can neither brake nor swerve to avoid or mitigate the impact. It is also important to note that crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen between the hours of 2am and 6am, and 2pm and 4pm. They are also most common during long journeys on monotonous roads (i.e. motorways) and hence are quite likely to involve drivers of goods vehicles.
Q. What role do tachographs play in managing driver hours?
A. Tachographs provide detailed and in-depth information about driver hours – including rest breaks – and automate its capture. This greatly simplifies the task of ensuring compliance with the Working Time Regulations, cutting down drastically on administrative hours as well as greatly reducing the risk of inaccuracies and helping to improve fleet productivity. Having an approved tachograph fitted is a legal requirement to ensure compliance with rules and driving hours regulations. It is also important to remember the value of integrating tachographs with telematics, thereby making driver hours data accessible in real time and helping fleet managers effectively manage resources in line with the relevant regulations.
Q. How can fleets help drivers manage their workload in a healthy and safe manner?
A. We’ve already touched on how telematics allows fleet managers to monitor driver hours simply and effectively. This is crucial to helping drivers manage their workload and promote a safer working environment, as well as ensuring compliance with the Working Time Regulations. Telematics also enables dynamic route planning, so that drivers are directed along the quickest and clearest route available – this allows them to minimise the amount of time they spend snarled up in traffic, thereby also making sure they spend less time on the road unnecessarily. This means less stress for drivers, and allows them to concentrate more on driving safely. Telematics also provides detailed insights into driver behaviour and can highlight patterns of dangerous conduct, which may themselves be an indicator of stress and overwork. Fleet managers can then take the appropriate action, including personalised training programmes or reallocating work to other drivers, where possible.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is a representation of Working Time Directive laws at the time of publishing. Seek independent advice or see the Health and Safety Executive website prior to implementing any such processes.