One of, if the most, important aspects of driving an HGV is to operate within the constraints of the current driver working hours regulations, because overworked or tired drivers are much more likely to have a lapse in concentration or make an error of judgement that could lead to a potentially lethal incident occurring on the road, endangering other road users.
UK driver’s hour laws are set out in conjunction with the current EU legislation and include several key points concerning rest times, daily driving limits and total weekly/fortnightly driving periods. A digital tachograph usually takes care of recording driving and rest times but it is essential to be aware of the rules, so you know you’re operating within the confines of the law.
Daily Rest & the 4.5 Hour Rule
It is a legal requirement for HGV drivers to take regular breaks and one of the most critical points to remember is that a driver MUST take a break of at least 45 minutes for every 4.5 hours they drive.
This break (and therefore the driving time) can be taken in 2 sections, with the first section being at least 15 minutes and 2nd section at least 30 minutes (n.b a minimum of 15 minutes must be taken for it to be considered an official “break”)
Within any 24-hour period, you must have a minimum of 11 hours of rest. As an example, if you start work at 7am you must finish by 8pm to ensure you can take the total 11 hours of rest.
Daily rest can be reduced, but only to a maximum of 3 times per week and reduced to no less than 9 hours in any given 24-hour period. Therefore, total duty is not allowed to exceed a total of 15 hours.
On any given working day, you may drive up to 9 hours. A minimum of a 45-minute break must be taken every 4.5 hours as set out above of course. The 9-hour driving time can be extended to 10 hours, but only twice per week.
Weekly Driving and Rest
In any given working week, you may drive up to 56 hours; this can only be accumulated over up to 6 consecutive duties in any given week. A minimum of 45 hours of rest must be taken; this can be reduced to 24 hours but must be made up before the end of the 3rd week following that reduced rest period. A very important point is to remember that two reduced weekly rests in a row are not permitted.
The maximum you can drive in any consecutive two weeks is 90 hours, based on a continuous rolling total. This means that after the 1st two weeks, it isn’t a reset. You simply include the previous week and your current week into your two weekly totals.
With both weekly and fortnightly rest, you need to ensure you record all instances of extra duty and reductions in rest periods if applicable.
As well as the main points highlighted above, there are a number of other additional rules to be taken into account for other circumstances. These include:
You can ignore interruptions to your daily rest in the case of ferry crossings, but only if they don’t interrupt the rest period more than twice (i.e embarking and disembarking the ferry), and only up to 1 hour in total. Daily rest should still be a minimum 11 hours. If the 1 hour period is exceeded, then you will need to include to take your full daily rest and include previous events as a duty.
This is classed as between midnight, and 4am for HGV drivers or 1am to 5am for PSV / coach drivers. When performing night work, you cannot exceed 10 hours of working within a given 24-hour period. This 10-hour limit doesn’t include breaks and periods of availability so you are able to legally undertake a 15-hour shift, so long as rests are adhered to.
Out of Scope
OOS driving hours include any driving which isn’t on a public highway and therefore doesn’t count towards any driving time (it does count as Other Work) – however, if you do any driving on a public highway, all driving thereafter is counted as driving hours regardless of whether it is off-road.
When driving with a 2nd driver, daily rest is calculated on a 30-hour period rather than 24 hours and therefore total cannot exceed 21 hours.
The DVSA has a full guide to drivers’ hours available here.
At TachPro, we work with several transport consultancies who we can recommend for any further information, please get in touch here to find out more and take a look at our range of compliance products designed to ensure your fleet and drivers are operating safely and legally.