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An Overview of EU Driver Hours Regulations

What are driver hours regulations? As the name suggests they’re a set of rules put into place to protect all drivers on the UK’s roads. They detail the number of hours commercial drivers can legally work, as well as the rest they need to take.

These regulations constitute a vital aspect of HGV management, so, let’s look at the key elements (focusing mainly on EU rules).

Daily Driving Limit:

  • The maximum limit for drivers to spend behind the wheel is 9 hours.
  • This daily driving limit can be extended to 10 hours, but only twice a week.

Weekly Driving Limit:

  • The weekly EU driving limit is 56 hours, but no more than 90 hours should be driven in any 2-week period.

Rest Periods & Breaks

  • Drivers need to take a rest period of at least 11 hours each day. This may be reduced to 9 hours on 3 occasions between any 2 weekly rest periods.
  • As a professional driver, you must take 45 consecutive hours of rest each week. If needed, this can be brought down to 24 hours every other week.
  • You shouldn’t drive for more than 4½ hours without taking at least a 45-minute break.
  • In the event that you’ve worked during six consecutive 24-hour periods since your last weekly rest, you need to take a break.

In the event that you’re driving a goods vehicle on an international trip, 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods are allowed (less than 45 hours) on the proviso that you take them:

  • Outside of the UK
  • Outside your country of residence

Over a 4-week period, 2 of these rests each week must be a minimum of 45 hours.

Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, you play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with regulations. As such, your main responsibilities include the following:

  1. Record Keeping: Adequate records of drivers’ hours must be kept to demonstrate your drivers are adhering to regulations.
  2. Training: Your drivers need to be trained and conversant with any regulations relating to their driving hours.
  3. Scheduling: Work schedules must be structured in order that drivers are able to reasonably comply with both daily and weekly driving limits.

Exemptions & Special Circumstances

In certain situations, exemptions or temporary relaxations of standard driving hours regulations may be warranted. Unexpected emergencies and severe weather conditions could be the cause, which is why it’s a good idea to keep up to date with allowable exemptions to ensure compliance.

GB Regulations:

While this article mainly focuses on EU rules, it’s important to note that there are GB rules that may apply to UK drivers when driving in the UK.

In Conclusion

Understanding Driver Hours Regulations is vital in ensuring safety and compliance for fleet operations and that’s why HR professionals and transport managers need to familiarise themselves with these regulations so that their drivers avoid penalties. With this in mind, continuous training and accurate record-keeping are essential practices.

About the author

Jonathan Gilder

Jonathan Gilder

Head of Training and Transport
Jonathan is a distinguished NRI HGV Instructor accredited by RTITB, with certifications in IOSH Managing Safely, RTITB Lift Truck Instruction, and ROSPA Assured PAT Testing. His expertise extends to EdI Level 3 NVQ Assessing, Btec Level 2 in Transportation of Goods by Road, and he is a skilled Trainer in Driver CPC and Incident Investigation from GH Safety.

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