The Drivers Hours law is determined by the European Union and the department for transport.
In addition to the drivers hours law mentioned there are also some exemptions for specific operators and vehicles which are unique to the UK. See our page on the Drivers Hours Exemptions for more information.
The Drivers hours law is confusing and can be determined by your operations and that’s even before you consider the working time directive (Road transport directive). Here are the basics.
The 4.5 hour rule?
You cannot drive for longer than 4.5 hours without taking a break of at least 45 minutes. Taking this break causes a fresh 4.5 hour period of drive to begin.
Note – See the rules on breaks to ensure you do not break the 4.5 hour rule.
You may take the 45 minute break in 2 sections. The first section must be at least 15 minutes and the second section at least 30 minutes. You cannot have these breaks the other way around. If you take anything less than 45 minutes then you must take a second break of at least 30 minutes.
You must have at least 15 minutes of continuous break in order for it to count as a break. Anything less will be recorded as other work.
Note – Any break taken before drive begins will not be taken into account. I.e. You must begin driving before you could qualify for having had a 15 minute break.
The Daily Drive Rule
You may drive up to 9 hours in a day. You can increase this 9 hours to 10 hours up to twice in a fixed week.
The Weekly Drive Rule
You can drive up to 56 hours in a fixed week. You can accumulate this drive over no more than 6 consecutive duties within a fixed week.
The Fortnightly Drive Rule
You can drive no more than 90 hours within 2 consecutive weeks. This is any 2 weeks together, and the rolling total must not exceed 90 hours.
* I.e. After completing 2 weeks of work you do NOT begin a fresh 2 week period. You must include the last week in the current week’s calculation for your fortnightly totals.
Calculating your daily rest
The standard daily rest requirement is 11 hours within a 24 hour period. This means the rest must begin no later than 13 hours after the duty has begun.
E.g. If you began at 6:00 am you must finish by 19:00 in order to have 11 hours daily rest. Even if you actually take off more than 11 hours, you cannot physically record 11 hours if you work more than 13 hours.
You can reduce your daily rest to no less than 9 hours within a 24 hour period up to 3 times in a week. This mean your total duty cannot exceed 15 hours in total. There is no compensation required for this reduction.
Note – When reducing your rest period don’t forget to keep track of your weekly and fortnightly driving hours.
Splitting Your Daily Rest
During your duty you may take a long period of break, (at least 3 hours) which may be counted towards your daily rest for that day. If you do this, you must still take the minimum of 9 hours within the 24 hour period.
Working Out Your Weekly Rest
The standard weekly rest requirement is 45 hours after no more than 6 consecutive duties. You may reduce this to a minimum of 24 hours which must then be compensated for by the end of the third week following the reduced weekly rest. You may compensate before this time, and it must be compensated for in full on the end of another daily or weekly rest period.
Warning – You must not have 2 reduced weekly rests in a row, even if you have immediately compensated in between.
How Does Double Manning Affect things?
When involving a second driver the period for calculating daily rest becomes a 30 hour period instead of a 24 hour period. This means that the total duty cannot exceed 21 hours.
In order to qualify for double manning, both drivers have to be present for the entire duty. The one exception to this is the first hour for which first driver has the opportunity to prepare the vehicle or collect the second driver. Both drivers must commence their daily rest at the same time, which means the vehicle cannot be moving at this time.
It is possible for one driver to be on break while the other drives, unless the idle driver is doing any form of work such as navigation or paperwork.
Note – All of the rules for breaks are the same as in a single man operation.
The Rules Change For Ferry Journeys
When taking part in a Ferry Crossing you may ignore interruptions to your daily rest as long as you do not interrupt it more than twice (Once to get on the ferry and once to get off).
These interruptions may not exceed more than 1 hour in total. These interruptions do not count towards your rest period.
If you have interrupted your rest in this way, then you must take a regular daily rest period of at least 11 hours. You may not have a reduced daily rest.
In a situation where your interruptions exceed 1 hour in total you will be required to take your full daily rest as normal and all events prior to the rest will be included in your previous duty.
Out of Scope Working Rules
Out of scope driving is driving that takes place on roads which are not the public highway. All driving done out of scope does not count towards your driving time and instead counts as other work.
Note – If you drive for any amount of time on a public highway, then all driving you for the remainder of that day will count as driving, even if it is off road.
Night Work Rules
A night work is defined as a duty that takes place entirely or partly between the hours of midnight and 4am for HGV drivers. For PSV drivers the hours differ slightly and are between 1am and 5am.
During a night work duty, you may not exceed 10 hours of working time within a 24 hour period. This time does not include breaks and periods of availability.
Note – You can opt out of this rule through a collective or workforce agreement.
For a full explanation of the Drivers hours law and how they affect your operations get the Drivers Hours Handbook, which fully explains all the rules with real-life examples, making it easy to understand and explain to others. Take this handbook with you everywhere on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.