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A simple guide to basic HGV driver working hours in the UK

hgv driver at work

Posted on 26th Nov, 2019 by Charlotte Coop

In addition to vehicle safety technology, adhering to strict driver hours are one of the most fundamental ways that drivers and fleet managers are able to keep HGVs safe. An overworked or overtired driver is more likely to let their concentration lapse or make an incorrect decision, and where HGVs are concerned, it only takes a second or so for a devastating and potentially deadly incident to occur. An overtired driver may even fall asleep at the wheel, and while our StopSafe system has been designed for just such an eventuality, it’s never acceptable to knowingly take the risk!

These are just a few vital reasons why it’s so important for employers and drivers alike to know what their basic obligations are in regard to driver hours. It can be sometimes difficult to work out how to plan a driver’s schedule depending on the type of work they undertake, so we’ve provided a really simple guide below.

 The limits on HGV driving hours in the UK

The rules on driving hours are based on regulations set by the European Union, but they’re also enshrined in British law. The key rules include:

  • 9 hour daily limit on driving. This can be increased to 10 hours, but only twice a week
  • 56 hours is the maximum weekly driving limit
  • 90 hours is the maximum fortnightly limit

The legally mandated breaks an HGV driver must take

After 4.5 hours of driving, HGV drivers are legally mandated to take a break of at least 45 minutes. This driving time can be continuous and done all in one sitting, or composed of multiple shorter periods. Either way, they reach that first 4 hour 30 minutes mark, they must take a 45 minute break.

HGV-VT

Like the driving itself, this can be done in one single sitting. Alternatively, the driver can choose to take what’s called a split break, consisting of one 15 minute period followed closely by another 30 minute period.

If the first period in a split break is under 15 minutes, then officially it doesn’t count as a break. (However, it won’t be classed as driving time either.) Only split breaks which have that minimum 15 minutes plus that minimum 30 minutes will count. If these aren’t honoured, the driver and fleet manager may be committing a criminal offence.

What’s the difference between driving time and working time?

They might sound the same, but they’re not. Driving time is classed as time spent behind the wheel, whereas working time is defined as anything you do in connection with transport operation.

This includes (but is not necessarily limited to):

  • Driving
  • Loading and unloading
  • The monitoring of any loading/unloading activities
  • Driver CPC training or industry-specific job training
  • Cleaning and maintaining vehicle
  • Daily vehicle defect check and report
  • Administrative work
  • Waiting periods where the foreseeable duration isn’t known advance by the driving

Under this system, driving time is a form of working time. The hours for working time aren’t necessarily defined in the same way, and the implications can be complex. There’s an excellent comprehensive guide that goes into even more detail, if you need it.

Will HGV driving hours be affected by Brexit?

This is a pressing question for many fleet operators at the moment, given that the regulations are set by the EU. However, you needn’t worry. Britain adopted the EU regulations into our own official law as part of the UK Transport Act of 1968, which means they’ll remain in place even if we crash out of the EU with no deal.

On the other hand, the UK Working Time Directive will shortly be up for review, and this could have a much more substantiative effect on driver working hours – so this is worth keeping an eye out for.

Whatever happens, here at Vision Techniques we’re committed to helping you maintain and improve the safety of your fleet. Our wide-ranging stock of vehicle safety technology includes vehicle cameras and our award-winning Brakesafe system. If you need any help or advice in learning which ones might be best for your fleet, feel free to give us a call on 08455 278 267. We’re here