EU Drivers Hours Rules

The following rules apply to vehicles that are used for the ‘carriage of goods by road’ which is defined, in short, as any journey made on public roads.

EU Drivers Hours Rules apply to all drivers of large goods vehicles (LGVs) over 3.5 tonnes. The EU Drivers Hours Rules are used to set limits for daily, weekly and nightly driving. They also specify minimum break times for drivers during a working day, along with daily and weekly rest periods. Failure to comply will put your  HGV insurance at risk. 

This guide does not cover rules for passenger vehicles, nor does it cover journeys made outside the UK. The EU defines a driver as anyone who:

  • Drives a vehicle
  • Is carried on the vehicle so that they may drive

Time behind the wheel

Any amount of driving, no matter how small, puts the driver in the scope of the EU rules for the whole of that day. Meaning simply that if you drive, you must comply with all driving, break, and rest requirements not only for the day, but the week as well.

Daily Breaks

The rules say that after driving 4.5 hours, a driver is required to take an uninterrupted break of 45 minutes. While on this break, they may not carry out any other driving work. Included also is doing work other than rather than driving. If a driver drives for 2.5 hours, does some other work for an hour then drivers for an additional 2.5 hours, then they must take a 45-minute break, no exceptions. The 45-minute break can however be taken like this; one break of at least 15 minutes, which is followed by another of at least 30 minutes in any given 4.5 hour period.

Daily Driving Time

The absolute maximum daily driving time is nine hours in a 24-hour period. This is allowed to be increased to ten hours twice a week. Daily Driving Time is calculated like this. The total accumulated driving time one has between the end of a daily rest period and the beginning of the next daily rest period.

Weekly Driving Limit

The EU rules say that weekly driving limit should not exceed 56 hours in a week. So, the maths says … 4 x 9 hour days, plus 2 x 10 hour and you have your ‘fixed’ week of 56 hours. This fixed week starts at midnight on Monday and ends one week later.

Two Week Driving Limit

The rules say that the maximum driving time over any given two-weekly period is 90 hours.

Rest Periods

All drivers must take a daily rest period during each 24 hour period. This rest must be uninterrupted. Time that is spent working in other types of employment, including self-employed work, is not counted as rest. The EU rules state that an eleven-hour daily rest period is recognized as a ‘regular’ daily rest period.

A driver is allowed to split a ‘regular’ daily rest period into two periods. The first period should be at least three hours uninterrupted rest, and is permitted to be taken any time during the day. The second period without exception, must be nine hours of uninterrupted rest, for a combined total of twelve hours minimum.

By definition, a daily rest period that is less than eleven hours, but at least nine hours long, is called a ‘reduced’ daily rest period. A driver is allowed to reduce their daily rest period to no less than nine continuous hours, however, this can be done no more than three times between any two given weekly rest periods. A daily rest break may be taken in a vehicle, providing it has suitable sleeping facilities and, of course, is stationary.

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