HGV Driving Hours: A Guide To UK Driver Hours Rules and Regulations

HGV Driving Hours: Ensuring Safety in Lorry Driving

Table of Contents

Written by Jessie Lee  &  Reviewed by Peter Howitt 

In today’s fast-paced world of logistics, HGV drivers play a crucial role in ensuring the timely and efficient transportation of goods across the UK. However, strict regulations are in place to uphold road safety and ensure compliance with HGV driving hours.

In this guide, we will look into the details of the UK’s HGV driver hours and regulations, along with the obligatory rules that drivers and transport companies must adhere to.

#1- The Importance of HGV Driving Hours and Regulations

Ensuring the safety of all road users is a collective responsibility. HGV driver hours and regulations serve as a cornerstone in achieving this goal. These regulations are designed to prevent driver exhaustion, reduce accidents, and maintain the efficiency of goods transportation.

#2 – Understanding the Basics of HGV Driving Hours

HGV drivers are the backbone of freight transportation, responsible for moving goods across vast distances. To ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road, it’s crucial to establish clear regulations concerning the number of hours they can work in a given day or week.

These regulations are designed to prevent driver fatigue, enhance road safety, and maintain the well-being of drivers.

#3 – HGV Daily Driving Limit and Breaks

HGV Daily Driving Limit and Breaks

Daily Driving Limit: Exploring the Maximum Number of Hours

Within a 24-hour period, HGV drivers are subject to a daily driving limit, which dictates the maximum number of hours they can drive. In the UK, the standard daily driving limit is 9 hours, with the possibility of extending it to 10 hours twice a week.

This extension allows for flexibility in certain situations, such as unexpected delays due to traffic or adverse weather conditions. However, drivers must always adhere to the prescribed rest periods even if the driving limit is extended.

Breaks and Rest Periods: Mandatory Break Times and Rest Periods

In addition to the daily driving limit, HGV drivers are required to take breaks and rest periods to prevent fatigue. After every 4.5 hours of continuous driving, drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes.

This break can be split into two parts – one of at least 15 minutes followed by another of at least 30 minutes. This arrangement allows drivers to rest and rejuvenate, ensuring they remain alert while on the road.

Furthermore, to guarantee sufficient rest, drivers must have a daily rest period of at least 11 hours. This can be reduced to 9 hours no more than three times between two weekly rest periods.

A weekly rest period of 45 hours is mandatory, and it can be reduced to 24 hours once every two weeks. Alternatively, a driver can take a regular weekly rest of 45 hours followed by a reduced rest of at least 24 hours, totalling 69 hours in a fortnight.

#4- Weekly Driving Limit and Rest Periods

Tips for HGV Drivers to reduce stress

Weekly Driving Limit: Understanding the Cumulative Hours

In addition to the daily limits, HGV drivers are also subject to weekly driving limits. Over a fixed period of 7 days, drivers must not exceed 56 hours of driving. This means that even if the daily driving limit is not reached on some days, the cumulative total of driving hours over a week must not surpass 56 hours.

Regular Weekly Rest: Ensuring Road Safety

The importance of rest periods is further emphasised by the requirement for a regular weekly rest period. This rest period, totalling 45 hours, is an essential component of driver well-being and road safety.

Regular weekly rest ensures that drivers have ample time to recover from the physical and mental strain of their job, reducing the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Understanding the basics of HGV driver hours is essential for both drivers and the transport industry as a whole.

By adhering to daily and weekly driving limits, taking mandatory breaks, and ensuring adequate rest periods, drivers can play their part in promoting road safety and maintaining their own health.

Transport companies, on the other hand, must structure schedules that prioritise compliance with these regulations, fostering a culture of safety and responsibility in the HGV industry.

#5 – HGV Working Time Directive Rules

The Working Time Directive encompasses various regulations that impact HGV drivers’ work schedules and rest periods. This directive ensures drivers have reasonable working hours and ample rest.

Working Time (Including Driving)

In addition to driving hours, the directive covers other work-related activities, such as loading and unloading. Drivers must not exceed an average of 48 hours of work per week, including driving time.

Working Time Breaks

HGV drivers are entitled to a 45-minute break for every 4.5 hours of continuous driving. This break can be divided into two segments: a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break. 

If you do not accumulate 4.5 hours of driving, under the working time directive you must still take a 30-minute break between 6 and 9 hours, and a 45-minute break in total if you exceed 9 hours of work.

Working Time Rest

A minimum of 11 hours of continuous rest is required between working days. This ensures drivers have adequate time to recover before starting another shift.

What Is a Period of Availability?

A period of availability (POA) is a time when a driver is available to work but is not actively driving or performing other work-related activities. POA is not considered driving time and doesn’t count towards daily or weekly limits.

What Is a Reference Period?

A reference period is usually 17 weeks, during which the average working time and rest periods are calculated. This period ensures that even if a driver works more hours in one week, it is balanced out over time.

HGV Working Time Directive Rules

#6 – Regulations and Exceptions

The world of HGV transportation is governed by a complex framework of regulations that aim to ensure road safety, driver well-being, and efficient freight movement. These regulations set the standards for driving hours, rest periods, and breaks that HGV drivers must adhere to.

However, within this framework, there are instances where exceptions and special cases come into play, allowing for flexibility under specific circumstances.

Exemptions and Special Cases

Certain situations warrant exemptions from specific regulations due to the unique nature of the work involved. For instance, drivers engaged in transport operations that don’t require driving as their main activity might be exempt from certain driving hour restrictions.

These exemptions are often intended to accommodate jobs that inherently involve a significant amount of non-driving tasks, such as loading and unloading.

However, it’s crucial to note that such exemptions don’t nullify the requirement for adequate rest periods and breaks.

Short Distance Transport: Understanding the Rules

Short-distance transport, which typically involves delivery within a limited radius, is subject to slightly different rules. Drivers engaged in such operations are allowed to deviate from some of the regular regulations.

For example, drivers conducting short-distance transport can opt for reduced daily rest periods as long as they compensate for it later. These allowances are in place to address the unique demands of short-haul driving while still maintaining a balance between safety and efficiency.

#7 – Monitoring and Enforcement

As regulations governing HGV driver hours and rest periods are put in place to ensure road safety and driver well-being, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are essential to uphold these standards.

Effective monitoring helps prevent violations and promotes a culture of compliance within the transportation industry.

Tachograph Usage and Reporting

What is a Tachograph?

A tachograph is a sophisticated electronic device used in HGVs to record crucial information about a driver’s activity while on the road. This includes details such as driving time, rest periods, breaks, distance travelled, and speed.

Tachographs are essential tools for ensuring that drivers adhere to driving limits and rest regulations, preventing excessive fatigue and reducing the risk of accidents.

Tachograph Usage: How Drivers Should Use Tachographs

Using a tachograph correctly is paramount to accurate recording and compliance. When starting a journey, the driver must insert their smart card into the digital tachograph. The tachograph then begins recording data, including driving time, breaks, and rest periods.

During the journey, the tachograph should not be tampered with or manipulated in any way. If a driver stops for a break or rest, they must switch the tachograph to the appropriate mode to record this activity correctly. Importantly, rest and break times should be accurately entered to avoid any discrepancies in reporting.

At the end of the journey, the recorded data is analysed to ensure that driving hours and rest periods are within legal limits. This data is also used for regulatory reporting purposes, helping authorities monitor compliance and enforce regulations.

Tachographs Are Invaluable Tools In Recording Driving And Rest Activities

Tachographs are invaluable tools in the monitoring and enforcement of HGV driver hours and regulations. By accurately recording driving and rest activities, tachographs contribute to road safety by reducing the risk of driver fatigue and ensuring compliance with established limits.

Both drivers and transport companies must understand the importance of tachograph usage and reporting, as they play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the transportation industry and fostering a safer environment for all road users.

Additional Requirements For EU Driving

#8 – Additional Requirements For EU Driving

Even after Brexit, drivers in the UK must still comply with EU Driver’s Hours Requirements unless their vehicle qualifies for exemptions from these regulations. Nonetheless, most driver’s hours regulations remain the same between the UK and the EU.

However, there are specific distinctions and supplementary rules to observe if you intend to drive within or through an EU nation:

  1. When operating goods vehicles abroad, you have the option to take two consecutive weekly rest periods that are shorter than 45 hours, provided they are taken outside your home country.
  2. If your journey extends up to four weeks, you must ensure that you take the full 45-hour rest for the remaining two weeks and return home every four weeks of working abroad.
  3. While driving in the EU, it is essential to maintain a comprehensive record of any other work you engage in that falls outside the scope of EU Drivers’ Hours Regulations, such as work in other countries, for example.

To Sum Up

Adhering to HGV driver hours and regulations is not only a legal requirement but also a crucial aspect of road safety.

Understanding the intricacies of daily and weekly driving limits, mandatory rest periods, and proper tachograph usage, both drivers and transport companies can contribute to safer roads and a more efficient transport industry.

By valuing these regulations, we pave the way for a smoother, safer, and more sustainable future in the world of HGV transportation.

Are You Looking For HGV Driving Work?

If you are a professional and experienced HGV driver and looking for a new role in the HGV industry, we’re here to assist you! ADR Network, with its nationwide network and local branches in the UK, can provide drivers with regular driving assignment opportunities as well as other added benefits.

Please visit our website to check out the latest driving jobs available in your area, or you can also reach out to us by submitting an enquiry through our website’s contact form.

A guide to HGV driving hours

HGV Driving Hours FAQs

Welcome to our FAQ section about HGV driving hours in the UK. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions about HGV driving hours. We believe that this information will be particularly useful for drivers, especially those who are newly qualified in the HGV industry.

Here are the 15 frequently asked questions about HGV driving hours:

1. What is the maximum number of hours a HGV driver can drive in a day?

Under the EU Driver Hours Rules Regulation (EC561/2006) the maximum daily driving time is 9 hours a day – this can be extended to 10 hours twice in a fixed week.

2. What is the maximum number of hours a HGV driver can work in a week?

An HGV driver must not exceed 60 hours of working time, which includes driving and other work, in any single week. Additionally, the average working time over a 17-week period must not exceed 48 hours per week.

3. What is the minimum rest period required for HGV drivers?

HGV drivers should have a regular daily rest period of 11 hours. This can be divided into two periods: a minimum of three hours and a minimum of nine hours, totalling 12 hours of rest.

Rest is defined as an uninterrupted period where you are free to dispose of your time. Within 24 hours of starting a shift, a daily rest period of 11 hours is required.

4. What are the penalties for exceeding HGV driving hours?

Exceeding HGV driving hours can lead to fines, penalties, and even the loss of a driving license. It also increases the risk of accidents due to driver fatigue.

5. How often must HGV drivers take a break?

HGV drivers must take a 15-minute break before reaching 6 hours of work or 4.5 hours of driving to ensure compliance.

6. Can HGV drivers split their daily rest period?

Yes, HGV drivers can split their daily rest period into two periods. The first period must be at least three hours long, and the second period must be at least nine hours long.

UK HGV Driver Hours - Rules and Regulations

7. What is considered as ‘working time’ for a HGV driver?

‘Working time’ for an HGV driver includes driving, loading and unloading, cleaning, and other work-related activities. It does not include rest breaks or periods of availability.

8. What is the maximum number of hours a HGV driver can drive in a week?

An HGV driver can drive a maximum of 56 hours in any single week.

9. Can HGV drivers exceed their daily driving limit in exceptional circumstances?

Daily and/or weekly driving times may be exceeded by up to one hour in exceptional circumstances to allow the driver to reach their destination.

10. What is the maximum number of hours a HGV driver can drive in a two-week period?

An HGV driver can drive a maximum of 90 hours in any two-week period.

11. What is the minimum break time required for HGV drivers?

HGV drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes after driving for 4.5 hours. This break can be split into two periods.

12. What is the maximum number of hours an HGV driver can work in a day?

An HGV driver can work a maximum of 13 hours in any single day.

13. What is the maximum number of hours an HGV driver can work in a fortnight?

An HGV driver can work a maximum of 90 hours in any two-week period.

14. What is the minimum break time required between shifts for HGV drivers?

HGV drivers must have a break of at least 11 hours between shifts.

15. What is the maximum number of hours an HGV driver can work in a year?

An HGV driver can work a maximum of 2,600 hours in any single year.

By familiarising yourself with these regulations and guidelines, you’ll be equipped to operate your HGV safely and legally. Proper planning, including scheduling adequate rest breaks and maintaining accurate records of your driving and working time, is essential for the well-being of both drivers and road users.

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