How long can I drive for?
Drivers Hours Rules for Goods Vehicles in the UK and Europe
Drivers Working Time Directive
Drivers Hours Rules Explained.
The European Union (EU) drivers hours rules (RTWTR) apply to all journeys made, in whole or in part, on roads open to the public, by the following vehicles:
- Goods carrying vehicles, where the maximum permitted weight (including any trailer or semi−trailer) exceeds 3.5 tonnes.
- Passenger carrying vehicles which are constructed or permanently adapted to carry nine or more passengers including the driver.
If the maximum permissible weight of your vehicle or combination is more than 3.5 tonnes and is used entirely within Great Britain, your journey must follow EU rules.
Drivers hours rules
The main points of the rules are
- Daily driving must not exceed 9 hours, although this may be extended to 10 hours twice a week.
- Weekly driving must not exceed 56 hours.
- Fortnightly driving must not exceed 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks.
- Drivers must take breaks that total at least 45 minutes during or after a maximum of 4.5 hours of driving.
- The break can be split into two periods, one of at least 15 minutes followed by one of at least 30 minutes.
- You cannot split breaks into three periods of 15 minutes.
- Drivers must normally take at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest.
- This can be reduced by up to 2 hours on no more than three occasions between any two weekly rest periods.
- Drivers may split their daily rest into two periods totalling 12 hours.
- If they do, the first period must be at least 3 hours and the second at least 9 hours.
- You cannot split daily rest into more than two periods.
- Within six 24-hour periods from the end of their last weekly rest, drivers must extend their daily rest period into a weekly rest period. This may be either the regular 45-hour weekly rest or a reduced period of at least 24 hours.
- In any two consecutive weeks, drivers must take at least two regular weekly rests, or one regular and one reduced weekly rest.
- Reductions in weekly rest must be compensated by an equivalent period of rest taken in a block before the end of the third week
that follows the week in which the reduced rest was taken.
Taking breaks when driving under EU drivers hours rules
- You should not drive for more than 4.5 hours without an uninterrupted break of at least 45 minutes.
- During a break a driver may not drive or do any other work and must use this time only to rest.
- You may take a break in a moving vehicle, provided that you do no other work.
- Alternatively, instead of taking a full 45 minute break every 4.5 hours, you can take two breaks within a 4.5 hour period.
- The first must be at least 15 minutes, followed by another of at least 30 minutes.
- Breaks of less than 15 minutes will not contribute towards a qualifying break.
- The drivers hours rules will only allow a split−break pattern if the second break is at least 30 minutes.
- If you are a driver, and you take a 45 minute break, or qualifying breaks totalling 45 minutes, before or at the end of a 4.5 hour driving period, then you will ‘wipe the slate clean’.
- This means that the next 4.5 hour driving period begins when you have finished that qualifying break.
Daily, weekly and fortnightly driving limits
There are daily, weekly and fortnightly driving time limits that you must follow.
Daily driving limit
- The maximum daily driving time is 9 hours, which can be split into 4.5 hour driving periods.
- For example, if you drive for 4.5 hours, then take a 45 minute break and then drive again for 4.5 hours,
- you will have reached your daily driving time limit.
- You can increase this limit to 10 hours twice a week.
- Driving time includes any off−road parts of a journey where the rest of that journey is made on the public highway.
- Journeys that are entirely off-road would be considered as ‘other work’.
- So, for example, any time that you spend driving off−road between a parking or rest area and a loading bay
- before going on a public road would count as driving time.
- However, if you pick up and deposit an entire load on the same off−road site, this would count as ‘other work’.
Weekly driving limit
The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours. This would include four 9 hour driving days, and two 10 hour driving days.
Fortnightly driving limit
The maximum driving time over any two weeks is 90 hours.
Daily and weekly rest periods
- You must take a daily rest period within 24 hours of the previous daily or weekly rest period.
- A regular daily rest period is defined as a rest of at least 11 hours.
- ‘Rest’ is an uninterrupted period where you may do what you like.
- Time that is spent working for yourself or others, no matter what the occupation, cannot be counted as rest.
- Time that you spend learning or doing something under obligation is also not counted as rest.
You also have the option to split a regular daily rest period into two periods.
- The first period must be at least 3 hours of continuous rest and taken at any time during the day.
- The second must be at least 9 hours of continuous rest, giving a total minimum rest of 12 hours.
For example, a 24 hour period can be broken down into
- 8 hours of driving, other work and breaks
- 3 hours of rest
- 4 hours of driving, other work and breaks
- a 9 hour rest period
You may reduce your daily rest period to no fewer than 9 continuous hours, with no compensation required. However, you can do this no more than three times between any two weekly rest periods.
If your daily rest is less than 11 hours but at least 9 hours, it is called a reduced daily rest period.
You can take your daily rest in a vehicle if it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.
For example: if you begin work at 06.00 on day one, then by 06.00 on day two you must complete one of the following
- a regular daily rest period of at least 11 hours
- split daily rest period of at least 12 hours
- a reduced daily rest period of at least 9 hours − if you are entitled
Weekly rest periods
- You must take a weekly rest period within six 24 hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest period.
- A weekly rest period is a period during which you may freely dispose of your time, and can be either a ‘regular weekly rest period’ or a ‘reduced weekly rest period’.
- A regular weekly rest period is a period of at least 45 consecutive hours.
- A reduced weekly rest period must be a minimum of 24 consecutive hours.
- If you take a reduced rest, then you must compensate for the reduction with an equal period of rest taken in one block by the end of the third week following the week in which the reduction is taken.
- Multi-manning and journeys involving ferry or train transport
- Multi−manning is an arrangement where at least two drivers are available to drive a vehicle between consecutive daily rest periods, or between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period.
- Examples of this include a pair of drivers taking it in turns to drive a coach on an organised tour.
- For the first hour of multi−manning the presence of another driver or drivers is optional, but for the rest of the period they must be there.
- This allows a vehicle to leave its operating centre and collect a second driver along the way, as long as this is done within one hour of the first driver starting work.
- Vehicles manned by two or more drivers must follow the same rules as single−manned vehicles, apart from the daily rest requirements.
- If two or more drivers operate a vehicle, drivers hours rules tell us that each driver must have a daily rest period of at least 9 consecutive hours within 30 hours of the last daily or weekly rest period.
- This allows drivers’ duties to be spread over 21 hours.
- Ferry or train daily rest requirements are more flexible.
- A regular daily rest period may be interrupted no more than twice by other activities not exceeding one hour in total.
- This allows you to drive the vehicle onto a ferry and off at the end of a sea crossing.
- If your rest period is interrupted in this way, the total accumulated rest period must still be 11 hours.
- You must have a bunk or couchette available during the rest period.
If your vehicle comes within the scope of the EU rules and is not at your home or at your employers’ operational centre but a separate location, then the time spent travelling to or from that location to take charge of the vehicle may not be counted as a rest or break.
This does not apply if you are on a ferry or train and have access to a bunk or couchette.
Drivers hours rules that apply to passenger carrying vehicles
As a driver of a passenger carrying vehicle, the drivers hours rules that apply to you will depend on
- the number of passenger seats
- the distance of your route
- whether you are operating a regular or non-regular service
- if you are travelling to or from another country
A regular service − which includes special regular services − is a service that carries passengers at specified intervals along a specified route, with passengers being picked up and set down at agreed stopping points.
It does not have to be a service for the general public. It may be a service only for one kind of passenger, eg it may take children to and from school, or workers to and from work.
For full information from VOSA please download this PDF for the Rules on Drivers Hours and Tachographs..
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