Understanding HGV Driver Hours

Whether you’re a professional HGV driver or a haulage operator, understanding the legal limits on HGV driver hours is essential, but with several sets of rules to adhere to, including rules for EU drivers and the Working Time Directive, this is often an area of confusion, open for misinterpretation and error.

To help drivers and operators understand their responsibilities with regard to HGV driver hours and the mandatory HGV driver rest periods and HGV driver break periods, we’ve put together this simple guide to outline the facts.

How many hours can an HGV driver drive in a day?

Depending on which country you are driving in and the type of vehicle, there are different rules that may apply regarding how many hours an HGV driver can drive in a day, and how many rest periods and breaks should be taken.

There are two main sets of rules that you should be aware of when researching the legal restrictions surrounding HGV driver hours: EU drivers’ hours and the Working Time Directive.

What are the EU drivers’ hours rules?

When following the EU rules on driving hours for HGV drivers, HGV driver break periods and HGV driver rest periods, you must not drive more than:

• 9 hours in a day – this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week
• 56 hours in a week
• 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks
Under EU rules, all driving hours for HGV drivers must be recorded on a tachograph.
What are the required breaks and rest stops for EU drivers?

HGV Driver Break Periods:

• After no more than 4.5 hours of driving you must take a break of at least 45 minutes
• A break can be split into two periods, but the first break period needs to be a minimum of 15 minutes and the following break a minimum of 30
• Breaks of less than 15 minutes don’t qualify. EU drivers’ rules and regulations state that only split breaks that show the secondary period being 30 minutes or over will be allowed

HGV Driver Rest Periods:

• A regular daily rest period of 11 hours – This can be split into two periods but the first needs to be an uninterrupted period of three hours and the second a period of 9 hours (12 hours in total).
• A HGV driver can reduce their daily rest period to a minimum of 9 hours uninterrupted, but no more than three times per week. Rest periods over 9 hours, but under 11 would be classed as a reduced daily rest period.
• Drivers’ hours weekly rest of 45 hours – This can be reduced to 24 hours, provided at least one full rest is taken in any fortnight. There should be no more than six consecutive 24-hour periods between weekly rests.

What are the Working Time Directive rules?

The Working Time Directive is a piece of EU legislation which controls the number of actual hours worked and needs to be taken into consideration when calculating the driving hours for HGV drivers.

The Working Time Directive states that:
• Working time (including driving) must not exceed an average of 48 hours a week (usually calculated over a 17-week period)
• Maximum working time of 60 hours in one week (provided average not exceeded)
• Maximum working time of 10 hours if night work performed

What are the break periods specified by the Working Time Directive?

You cannot work for more than six hours without a break.
• A break should be at least 15 minutes long
• 30-minute break if working between 6 and 9 hours in total
• 45-minute break if working more than 9 hours in total

It is important to note that when driving, the EU drivers’ hours break requirements take priority over the Working Time Directive break periods, so if you’re combining driving with other work, it’s important to make sure you’re following the HGV driver break periods specified by the EU drivers’ hours.

What are the rest periods specified by the Working Time Directive?

The rest requirements of the Working Time Directive are the same as the EU drivers’ hours rules.

In summary, all drivers of goods vehicles, or combinations of a vehicle and trailer of more than 3.5 tonnes, need to abide by both the Working Time Directive and the EU drivers’ hours rules. When calculating HGV driver break periods, drivers should ensure that they are following the EU drivers’ rules, which are specifically designed for drivers of HGVs.

For more information on drivers’ hours visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/drivers-hours-rules-and-guidance 

Savanna Driver Recruitment are specialists in providing temporary LGV (HGV), HIAB and Moffett drivers to businesses throughout London and the UK. For driver availability and more information please contact us on 0330 335 8367 or fill in our enquiry form.

If you are an HGV driver looking for work, please get in touch, we’re always interested to hear from qualified Class 1 and 2 drivers looking for work in the London and South East area.

If you’d like to read more about HGV driver hours, you might also be interested in our blog: How Will Brexit Affect the Working Time Directive