Drivers’ hours rules exist to make sure that professional drivers do not spend too long at the controls of a vehicle. Up to one in 6 of all serious crashes is caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel: this is dangerous in a car, but in a large goods vehicle it can be catastrophic.
Employers who force their employees to break the rules on drivers’ hours can be given a fine, but it’s also your responsibility as a driver to make sure you follow the rules – otherwise you could have to pay a fine or lose your licence to drive goods vehicles.
The European Union (EU) rule limits drivers to driving for 9 hours in any 24-hour period, although this may be extended to 10 hours twice a week. Weekly driving must not be more than 56 hours and fortnightly driving must not be more than 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks.
You must take breaks of at least 45 minutes in total 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 ca not split breaks into 3 periods of 15 minutes.
Daily rest periods
Each day you must have a rest from driving of at least 11 hours: this can be split into one period of at least 3 hours and another period of at least 9 hours.
Weekly rest periods
Within a week, you must have a rest period of at least 45 hours.
A tachograph records information about your driving time, speed and distance. It’s used to make sure you follow the rules on drivers’ hours.
Although there are analogue tachographs in older vehicles, all vehicles registered since 1 May 2006 must be fitted with a digital tachograph. If you’re a vehicle operator you can download data from the digital tachographs in your vehicles using a smart card. Apply for a digital tachograph company smart card at GOV.UK.
Each driver who uses a digital tachograph must have a smart card on which their driving data is stored.
If you need to have a tachograph installed, calibrated or inspected, you must use an approved centre. Find an Approved Tachograph Centre at GOV.UK.