EU Drivers’ hours compliance – A summary guide for new drivers and operators

Posted by AndrewT on 21st Oct 2014

All professional LGV, bus and coach drivers are governed complex rules concerning the use of the vehicle tachograph and their drivers’ hours.  This summary guide provides a basic overview for drivers and transport operators. What is a tachograph? Tachographs record information about driving time, speed and distance. They are used to make sure drivers and operators follow the same rules on drivers’ hours etc. The drivers’ information from a digital tachograph is saved on driver smart cards and must be downloaded at least every 28 days. If the vehicle you’re driving comes under EU rules you will need a tachograph and vehicles registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with a digital tachograph rather than an analogue tachograph. Why do we need drivers’ hours laws? The law protects the wellbeing of drivers, ensuring they take regular breaks to reduce fatigue which is still a common factor in road traffic accidents. Drivers’ hours are standardised throughout the EU to make it easier for drivers and transport operators working in different countries to comply with one set of regulations. It sets the standard for what is safe and ensures fair competition between operators. What are the rules for transport operators? Transport operators must monitor their drivers and the working time of any employees that are part of the vehicle crew. Operators must ensure limits aren’t exceeded, record working times and keep records for at least 2 years. The regulations are enforced by The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the police. Breaking the rules may result in an improvement notice, a prohibition notice, fines and in extreme cases prison sentences and loss of the operator’s licence. What are the EU Rules? In the EU drivers’ hours must be recorded on a tachograph. Drivers must not drive more than nine hours in a day, although this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week. They can drive 56 hours in a week or 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks. The rules mandate the following rest breaks:
  • at least 11 hours rest every day – this can be reduced to nine hours rest three times between any two weekly rest periods;
  • an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week – this can be reduced to 24 hours every other week;
  • your weekly rest after six consecutive 24-hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken (coach drivers on an international trip can take their weekly rest after 12 consecutive 24-hour periods, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken);
  • a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than four and-a-half hours driving.
Certain vehicles are exempt from these EU rules and in which case must comply with The GB Domestic drivers’ hours rules. What are Working Time Regulations? The Working Time Regulations includes non-driving workers. The two key limits for road transport workers are:
  • Maximum average working week – 48 hours
  • Maximum length of work before a break – 6 hours
The Health & Safety Executive is responsible for the enforcement of the weekly working time limit and night work limits but does not enforce time off, rest break entitlements or paid annual leave entitlements. What are the risks for non-compliance? Failing to keep proper drivers’ hours records is an offence. Digital driver card data must be downloaded at least every 28 days. Drivers can be fined a maximum of £5000 or face 2 years imprisonment. Transport operators that permit this to happen face fines up to £5000, possible loss of ‘O’ licence and in the case of tachograph fraud imprisonment. What fixed penalties apply? Graduated fixed penalties apply for driver’s exceeding their drivers’ hours as set out below:
Maximum daily driving time exceeded by Penalty
Up to an hour £100
1 to 2 hours £200
2 or more hours £300
  What is the best way to ensure compliance with drivers’ hour law? Managing drivers’ hours is complex and penalties for non-compliance can be significant. Transport operators can save themselves time, money and headaches by using tachograph analysis software such as Descartes Smartanalysis. It costs around 25p per driver per day. Drivers’ hours are analysed and reports can be automated to give you the full picture on compliance. Tachograph data is safe, secure and always available wherever you have an internet connection. To find out more simply complete the information request form.