HGV Driving Hours – How to Stay Legal?
If you are a goods vehicle driver within the UK then you will already be familiar with the enforced rest hours and driving hour limits, especially considering the HGV course price you pay for training. However, if you are not aware of them then it is important that you learn about them right away since going over the limit can get you into serious trouble. The limits are for your safety as well as other road users safety. Driving an HGV when you are tired can turn the vehicle into a very dangerous weapon and all accidents can potentially have fatal consequences. It is critical that you take these rules seriously.
We are offering the following information based on our own interpretation of Department of Transport rules. It is critical that you read these rules yourself and fully understand them. There are three different sets of rules that might apply; GB domestic rules, AETR rules or EU rules. Each of these sets of rules is different and it will depend on what and where you are driving to determine which set of rules applies to your situation.
For international trips, either the AETR or EU rules will apply.
Whether you are driving a goods vehicle for commercial purposes or private purposes, the rules still apply. The following are the key elements of the EU driving hours rules:
Limits on daily driving – According to the EU regulations for driving hours:
- You are not allowed to drive over 9 hours in one day and may be increased to 10 hours two times per week.
- 56 hours a week
- 90 hours over two consecutive weeks
A Tachograph must be used to record all of this information and then you must submit it to your employer.
The following covers the EU rules on rest and breaks you are required to take:
- You are required to rest for 11 hours every day at least; it may be reduced to only 9 hours of rest per day three times within a two week rest period.
- You are required to have a 45-hour unbroken rest period. Every other week it may be reduced down to 24 hours.
- You are required to take breaks of 45 minutes at least in total after driving for no more than 4 1/2 hours.
Weekly rest after working 6 consecutive 24 hour time periods beginning from the end of the last weekly rest period that was taken.
Employers are required to monitoring the working time of their drivers and ensure they do not exceed the limits. Employers are also required to record working time. The records must be kept for 2 years at least.
The regulations are enforced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). If you break any of these rules you could receive:
- An improvement notice – which sets out the changes that you must make by a specific date
- A prohibition notice – requires you to either start to comply with the regulations or stop a dangerous activity
When it comes to enforcement a ‘proportionate’ approach is taken by the DVSA. Usually, formal action is taken against serious or persistent offenders. Our advice is to always remain legal and to not take any chances ever.
These rules do have some occasionally exemptions like; relaxation during either the Calais industrial action or closure of the Forth Road Bridge. If you find yourself in a situation like this it is very important that you check to find out if a relaxation of rules is in place.
The EU been criticised constantly for introducing legislation that seems to just benefit a few European countries. However, a majority of individuals within the haulage industry widely agree that the rules are different. UK HGV drivers have benefitted from the tachograph usage and driver hours, by reduce the pressure on the drivers to overwork in order to get their jobs done. It is essential to have adequate controls on rest times and commercial vehicle driving to ensure safe operation since it is more likely that tired drivers will become involved in accidents.