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Drivers Hours Regulations

Drivers hours regulations and Tachograph regulations can be confusing even for those who work with them on a daily basis. To compound this there are many individual interpretations you will come across on a daily basis, and many contradictory and outdated sources of information about drivers hours regulations and tachograph regulations, especially on the web.

If you work for a large company, you will normally have access to someone who is dedicated to watching these regulations and ensuring that information is passed on to you. Owner drivers, drivers that work for smaller companies and those that work for an agency are mostly on their own. The new CPC training is pretty good and does help to clarify some of the finer points but we have found that some myths creep in here as well, even though they shouldn't.

We have included a summary below, but it's your licence and livelihood that is at risk, so the definitive source is the website where you will find a downloadable pdf file entitled "Rules on Drivers' Hours and Tachographs. Goods vehicles in the UK and Europe". They keep changing the versions mainly to clarify the explanations, but its there and it's worth a read.

Summary of EU limits on drivers' hours

Breaks from driving
A break of no less than 45 minutes must be taken after no more than 4.5 hours of driving. The break can be divided into two periods - the first at least 15 minutes long and the second at least 30 minutes - taken over the 4.5 hours.
Daily driving
Maximum of 9 hours, extendable to 10 hours no more than twice a week.
Weekly driving
Maximum of 56 hours.
Two-weekly driving
Maximum of 90 hours in any two-week period.
Daily rest
Minimum of 11 hours, which can be reduced to a minimum of 9 hours no more than three times between weekly rests. May be taken in two periods, the first at least three hours long and the second at least 9 hours long. The rest must be completed within the 24 hours of the end of the last daily or weekly rest period.
Multi-manning daily rest
A 9 hours daily rest must be taken within a period of 30 hours that starts from the end of the last daily or weekly rest period. For the first hour of multi-manning the presence of another driver is optional, but for the remaining time it is compulsory.
Ferry/train daily rest
A regular daily rest period (of at least 11 hours) may be interrupted no more than twice by other activities of not more than 1 hour's duration in total, provided that the driver is accompanying a vehicle that is travelling by ferry or train and provided that the driver has access to a bunk or couchette.
Weekly rest
A regular weekly rest of at least 45 hours, or a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours, must be started no later than the end of six consecutive 24-hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest. In any two consecutive weeks, a driver must have at least two weekly rests - one of which must be at least 45 hours long. A weekly rest that falls in two weeks may be counted in either week but not in both. Any reductions must be compensated in one block by an equivalent rest added to another rest period of at least 9 hours before the end of the third week, following the week in question.

Drivers must also comply with the rules on working time as laid out in the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005.

The main provisions of the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005

Weekly working time
must not exceed an average of 48 hours per week over the reference period. A maximum working time of 60 hours can be performed in any single week providing the average 48-hour limit is not exceeded.
Night work
if night work is performed, working time must not exceed 10 hours in any 24-hour period. Night-time is the period between 00.00 and 04.00 for goods vehicles and between 01.00 and 05.00 for passenger vehicles. The 10-hour limit may be exceeded if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement.
  • Mobile workers must not work more than 6 consecutive hours without taking a break.
  • If your working hours total between 6 and 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 30 minutes.
  • If your working hours total more than 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes.
  • Breaks should be of at least 15 minutes duration.
the regulations are the same as the EU or AETR drivers' hours rules.
Record keeping
records need to be kept for two years after the period in question.

The reference period for calculating the 48-hour week is normally 17 weeks, but it can be extended to 26 weeks if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement. There is no 'opt-out' for individuals wishing to work longer than the average 48-hour week, but breaks and 'periods of availability' do not count as working time.