A central priority of fleet management is driver safety. Fundamentally, fleet safety is achieved through regulatory compliance. One basic area of compliance in particular which demands keen attention is HGV driver working hours.

Regardless of whether for fleet operations, driving requires a great degree of focus. However, this is especially the case if the vehicle being driven is of a large size and weight. After all, it’s evidently more likely for an incident to result in a fatality if a more substantial vehicle is involved.

In order to lessen the chance of fatal accidents occurring, the EU has set specific limitations on HGV driver working periods. These limits are essential for keeping on-road employees alert and awake, as opposed to fatigued and unconcentrated. Since there’s only so much immediate in-cab feedback can accomplish, it’s vital that both drivers and fleet managers alike are aware of their obligations. For this reason, we’ve put together this guide which answers the question: “how many hours can a truck driver work?”.

How many hours can a HGV driver work in a day?

There is a 9 hour daily limit on driving a HGV. Albeit, these hours can be increased to 10 hours in a day, but only twice per week. Alongside this, by law, a HGV driver cannot drive for more than 4.5 hours without taking a 45-minute break.

As such, HGV drivers generally begin their shift by driving for 4.5 hours, then breaking for 45 minutes, before carrying out the other half of their working hours. Although, there is the option of taking a split break. Split breaks are where the initial break period within a shift consists of 15 minutes, with the second amounting to 35 minutes for a total of 45 minutes.

How many hours can a HGV driver work in a week?

In a single week, a HGV driver cannot exceed 56 hours of total drive time. Within a two-week period, HGV drivers are not allowed to have been on the road for over 90 hours. This means that if a driver was to drive for 56 hours one week, then they could only work for 34 hours the subsequent week.

For instance, a driver could work four 9-hour shifts coupled with two 10-hour shifts one week, followed by four 7-hour shifts and one 6-hour shift the next. It’s notable that these shift times do not account for the mandatory breaks we previously mentioned.

How many 15-hour shifts can a HGV driver do?

HGV drivers are able to work 15-hour shifts for up to three times a week, although these hours cannot solely comprise driving. This is because of the fact that a HGV driver’s hours can’t extend beyond 9 hours of on-road work more than three times a week.

And so, if an employee undertakes 15-hour shifts, then in addition to 9 hours of these being driving, the other 6 must be occupied with other facets of employment like deliveries, administrative duties, rest periods, and breaks.

What’s the difference between driving and working time?

On the back of the principle underlying 15-hour shifts, there is a distinct difference between a HGV driver’s driving time and their working time. Though, driving time is technically classed as a form of working time.

Simply put, driving time refers to the hours a driver specifically spends on the road, whereas working time concerns other jobs involved in the overall transportation function. These tasks may include:

The regulations surrounding breaks for such work are different from those for driving. That is, a driver is required to take a 15-minute break only if they work for between 6-9 hours in this manner, or a 45-minute break for more than 9 hours of work, rather than after 4.5 hours of continued driving.

HGV driver rest periods

As well as breaks, HGV drivers must receive a set rest period each day. Drivers are obligated to take an uninterrupted 11-hour rest period. It’s possible for this period to be divided in two, but the first rest period has to be a minimum of 3 hours.

For those drivers undertaking 15-hour shifts, their rest period is naturally reduced to 9 hours a day. However, as stated, this can only occur a maximum of three times per week.

What if you break HGV driver rules?

Given that HGV driver hours are governed by EU law, there are legal consequences for breaking the rules. Moreover, despite the UK leaving the EU, these laws are still applicable to drivers within the UK and apply for drivers of vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

In essence, if a driver is caught breaching the rules, then the relevant authorities can issue an accumulative fine of up to £1,500. Furthermore, if a driver breaks driving hours regulations more than five times in 28 days, then the driver in question can be taken to court and have their vehicle immobilised.

Of course, the driver themselves is principally responsible for exhibiting risky driving, but there is an inherent onus on fleet managers to guarantee compliance throughout their fleet. If any employer neglects sufficient measures, a company can be given a notice to improve by the DVSA. If these improvements aren’t acknowledged, then the employer may be asked to stop operations altogether until related issues are corrected.

As outlined, regulating HGV driver hours is integral to on-road safety. Followingly, just one driver not adhering to the rules can be detrimental for a fleet. Fleet management solutions which integrate tachograph systems help fleet managers tremendously in upholding such set regulations. Without proper purpose-built technology, it’s virtually impossible for fleet managers to monitor their drivers’ behaviour efficiently, making these solutions necessary. If you’re interested in implementing tachograph-integrated software throughout your fleet, then be sure to make an enquiry into our services today. For further reading, feel free to browse our resources center.