HGV Driving Hours – Staying on the Safe and Legal Side

Driving a goods vehicle in the UK has strict limitations in terms of driving hours and mandatory rest time. If you aren’t aware of these limits, you must inform yourself immediately, as going over these limits could attract severe penalties. These rules are meant to secure your safety and the safety of other drivers. Driving your HGV whilst tired increases the risk of terrifying accidents. You should always obey to these rules above anything else.

Regulations for Driving Goods Vehicles

This information is our personal interpretation of the rules enforced by the Department for Transport. If you are in an HGV job, you should make sure you fully understand all three sets of rules that could apply; GB domestic rules, EU rules or AETR rules. They are different from each other and it depends on where and what type of vehicles you’re driving for which rules should apply to your specific situation.

When it comes to international routes, either the AETR (European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport) or the EU rules apply.

These rules apply regardless the purpose of your journey. You need to apply them even in case of using your HGV for private purposes. Here are the main driving hours rules for the EU:

The main EU rules on daily driving limits are:

  1. The maximum driving time is 9 hours per day, with the option to increase it to 10 hours twice a week
  2. 56 hours in a week
  3. 90 hours per two consecutive weeks.

The driving time should be recorded on a Tachograph and the data should be shared with your employer.

Here are the EU regulations on breaks and rest:

  1. You need to have at least 11 hours of rest per day, every day; you may reduce it to 9 hours rest three times between two consecutive weekly rest intervals.
  2. You must secure an uninterrupted 45-hour rest period each week, with the possibility to reduce it to 24 hours every other week.
  3. You must take one or multiple breaks totalling 45 minutes minimum after no longer than 4 hours and a half of driving.

Your weekly rest interval should occur no later than after 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of driving.

Rules and Regulations for Employers

It’s the employer’s duty to monitor their drivers’ working time and make sure they stay within the limits. If you are an employer, you should know that you must record the driving time of all your drivers and keep these records for at least 2 years.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for enforcing these rules. If you break them you can be given:

  • An improvement notice stating the changes you must enforce by a specific date
  • A prohibition notice demanding you to cease a dangerous pattern or to start complying with the current rules and regulations.

DVSA embraces a “proportionate” approach to breaking the rules. Nonetheless, our advice is to always stay legal and not bend the rules, even though only repeated or serious offenders are severely penalised.

There are several exemptions to these rules such as; during the Calais industrial action and during the closure of the Forth Road Bridge. You should always check whether there’s any relaxation in place, should you find yourself in one of these circumstances.

Critics of the EU have commented that such legislation appears to benefit only a bunch of European countries. Nonetheless, most players in the haulage industry agree this isn’t the case. The rules enforcing the tachograph usage and the limitation of HGV driving hours have benefitted UK drivers by helping them to avoid overworking to get their job done. Limiting and controlling the commercial vehicle driving time can contribute a great deal to improving the road safety as tiredness is one of the main causes of severe accidents.