Drivers’ hours and tachographs rules: goods vehicles (GV262)

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1. EU and AETR rules on drivers’ hours

How the EU drivers' hours rules for goods vehicles work.

Overview

The EU rules (Regulation (EC) 561/2006) apply to drivers of most vehicles used for the carriage of goods - defined as goods or burden of any description - (including dual purpose vehicles) where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, exceeds 3.5 tonnes and where the vehicle is used within the UK or between the UK and other EU and EEA countries and Switzerland. It is however not necessary for a vehicle to be laden for it to be in scope of the EC/ AETR rules.

Vehicle operations that take place off the public road or vehicles that are never used to carry goods on a public road are out of scope.

Additionally drivers who are employed to drive vehicles which would normally be in scope of EU/ AETR rules but who never carry goods or passengers in the course of that employment are not considered to be within scope of the regulations. For example, this covers operations such as:

  • driving a hire vehicle for the purpose of delivery or collection
  • empty vehicles being driven to or from annual test or a place of repair
  • driving a vehicle for the purpose of moving it between depots
  • driving a new/demonstrator vehicle for the purpose of collection or delivery
  • vehicles being driven to be scrapped

A ‘driver’ is anyone who drives a vehicle or is carried on the vehicle in order to be available for driving.

1.1. Exemptions and derogations

The following table contains a list of vehicles or uses that are exempt from the EU rules regardless of where the vehicle is driven within the EU. See also ‘Unforeseen events’.

Note: In some cases it may be necessary to refer to case law for definitive interpretations.

Exemptions

Vehicles not capable of exceeding 40 km/ h

For example, some works vehicles fall into this category. Also includes vehicles incapable of exceeding 40 km/ h by virtue of a set speed limiter.

Vehicles owned or hired without a driver by the Armed Forces, civil defence services, fire services and forces responsible for maintaining public order, when the carriage is undertaken as a consequence of the tasks assigned to these services and is under their control.

Does not apply to commercial operators contracted by these bodies.

Vehicles, including vehicles used in the non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid, used in emergencies or rescue operations.

The EU rules do not define an ‘emergency’ but we consider this would certainly include any of the situations that would be considered an emergency for the purposes of the GB domestic drivers’ hours legislation, namely a situation where immediate preventative action is needed to avoid:

  • danger to the life or health of people or animals
  • serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity or drainage), of telecommunication and postal services, or in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports or
  • serious damage to property

Vehicles used in connection with emergency or rescue operations would be exempt from the EU rules for the duration of the emergency.

The important aspect of humanitarian aid is that it only applies to transport carried out on a non-commercial basis e.g. transportation of donated clothes, food parcels etc. The aid supplied must however be in direct response to an emergency or rescue operation.

Specialised vehicles used for medical purposes.

For example, mobile chest x-ray units.

Specialised breakdown vehicles operating within a 100 km radius of their base.

‘Specialised breakdown vehicle’ was interpreted by the European Court as a vehicle whose construction, fitments and other permanent characteristics were such that it would be used mainly for removing vehicles that had recently been involved in an accident or broken down.

Vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, and new or rebuilt vehicles which have not yet been put into service.

This doesn’t apply to vehicles normally falling in scope of EU rules but which are on journeys to or from testing stations for the purposes of an annual test.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes used for the non-commercial carriage of goods.

Examples could include a person moving house and goods carried by a non-profit making group or registered charity.

European Court of Justice case law provides that the term non-commercial also applies to the carriage of goods by a private individual for their own purposes purely as part of a hobby where that hobby is in part financed by financial contributions from external persons or undertakings and where no payment is made for the carriage of goods per se.

Commercial vehicles that have a historic status according to the legislation of the Member State in which they are driven and that are used for the non-commercial carriage of goods.

In the GB, a vehicle is a historic vehicle if it was manufactured more than 25 years before the occasion on which it is being driven.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes that are used for carrying materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of their work and which are used only within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking and on the condition that driving the vehicle does not constitute the driver’s main activity.

This would apply to tradesmen such as electricians or builders carrying tools or materials for their own use.

European Commission special authorisation exemptions

The following vehicles are exempt from the EU rules in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) after the European Commission granted a special authorisation:

  • any vehicle which is being used by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • any vehicle that was manufactured before 1 January 1947
  • any vehicle that is propelled by steam

Derogations

The EU rules grant Member States the power to apply derogations to further specific categories of vehicles and drivers while on national only journeys. The following derogations have been implemented in the UK.

In some cases it may be necessary to refer to case law for definitive interpretations.

Vehicles owned or hired without a driver by public authorities that do not compete with private transport undertakings.

The derogation only applies to vehicles being used:

  • for the provision of ambulance services by or at the request of an NHS body
  • for the transport of organs, blood, equipment, medical supplies or personnel by or at the request of an NHS body
  • by a local authority to provide services for old people or for mentally or physically handicapped people or
  • by HM Coastguard or a general or local lighthouse authority
  • for maintaining railways by:
    • the British Railways Board
    • any holder of a network licence which is a company wholly owned by the Crown
    • Transport for London (or a wholly owned subsidiary)
    • a Passenger Transport Executive
    • a local authority
  • by the British Waterways Board for the purpose of maintaining navigable waterways

Vehicles used or hired without a driver by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery undertakings for carrying goods as part of their own entrepreneurial activity within a radius of 100 km from the base of the undertaking.

This applies only to those who are an undertaking related to (ie in the business of) the activities of agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery and are transporting goods in relation to that business. If an organisation has a division for one of the listed activities then the derogation would apply only to that division. If an organisation as a whole is neither an undertaking, nor has a separate division relating to the listed activities, but it nonetheless operates vehicles occasionally for such purposes the derogation would not apply to its use of vehicles for those occasional purposes.

For a vehicle used by a horticulture undertaking, the derogation would apply to the carriage of goods relating to the small-scale management of non built- up land and which have a tangible link to horticulture so would include the carriage of plants, hard landscaping and fencing materials and related tools.

For a vehicle used by fishery undertakings, the derogation only applies if it is being used to carry live fish or to carry a catch of fish from the place of landing to a place where it is to be processed. The term ‘fish’ includes finfish and shellfish.

Agricultural tractors and forestry tractors used for agricultural or forestry activities within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking that owns, hires or leases the tractor.

Vehicles that are used to carry live animals between a farm and a market or from a market to a slaughterhouse where the distance between the farm and the market or between the market and the slaughterhouse does not exceed 100 km.

Vehicles being used to carry animal waste or carcasses that are not intended for human consumption.

The derogation applies to carriage of animal waste or carcasses, including fallen stock, from farms and abattoirs. “Animal waste” is deemed to be a substance or object that is discarded or is intended or required to be discarded and a “carcass” to mean the body of a dead animal. The derogation doesn’t apply to animal derived products nor to waste from supermarkets, shops etc.

Specially fitted mobile project vehicles, the primary purpose of which is use as an educational facility when stationary.

For example play buses and mobile libraries.

Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes.

This refers to those that are used by universal service providers as defined in Article 2(13) of Directive 96/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality service to deliver items as part of the universal service.

These vehicles shall be used only within a 100 km radius of the base of the undertaking and on the condition that driving the vehicle does not constitute the driver’s main activity.

Currently the only universal service provider in the UK is the Royal Mail. Universal service provider vehicles must have a tachograph fitted.

Vehicles operated exclusively on islands whose area does not exceed 2,300 square kilometres and that are not linked to the rest of Great Britain by a bridge, ford or tunnel open for use by a motor vehicle.

Vehicles used for the carriage of goods within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking and propelled by means of natural or liquefied gas or electricity, the maximum permissible mass of which, including the mass of a trailer or semi-trailer, does not exceed 7.5 tonnes.

Vehicles used for driving instruction and examination with a view to obtaining a driving licence or a certificate of professional competence, provided that they are not being used for the commercial carriage of goods or passengers

Includes instruction for renewal of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

Vehicles used in connection with sewerage, flood protection, water, gas and electricity maintenance services, road maintenance or control, door-to-door household refuse collection or disposal, telegraph or telephone services, radio or television broadcasting and the detection of radio or television transmitters or receivers.

There have been a number of significant court rulings from the European Court of Justice and British courts dealing with this exemption. Common themes have included a direct and close involvement in the exempt activity; the principle of a general service in the public interest; and the limited and secondary nature of the transport activity.

It’s DVSAs view that vehicles used in connection with sewerage, flood protection, water, gas and electricity services must be involved in the maintenance of an existing service (rather than the construction of a new service) to claim the concession.

For vehicles used in connection with sewerage maintenance services the term “maintenance” also applies to the removal of waste from a system but only where the waste is removed directly onto the vehicle and immediately taken away for treatment. This would also include transporting partially treated sewage from satellite sites to main sites.

The derogation doesn’t apply to the movement of sewage sludge which has been treated to make a product which is then used for another purpose such as, for example, fertiliser.

The types of refuse collection and disposal operations likely to be exempt are:

  • the door-to-door collection or from communal waste points of domestic waste such as black bin bags, green waste, garden waste, newspapers or glass from households
  • the collection of sofas and household appliances from households within a local area
  • the clearing of a home following a bereavement, provided refuse collection and disposal is the core purpose

The derogation will also apply to the collection of the domestic type waste from commercial premises but would not extend to collecting commercial waste, for example, waste generated by a manufacturing process.

Vehicles used in connection with road maintenance services which:

  • are engaged on a journey directly relating to the maintenance services, for example, removing rubble or other materials or
  • are being used directly on the maintenance activity, for example, laying tarmac

These will fall within this derogation however journeys to a site for the purpose of positioning the vehicle in readiness for engaging in the maintenance activity or for returning to base after the maintenance activity has ended will not fall within this derogation.

Vehicles which are to be used or have been used that same day in connection with highway maintenance and control and don’t travel far from the site where the work of highway maintenance is being carried out will fall within the derogation.

Specialised vehicles transporting circus and funfair equipment.

A recent court judgment determined that in order for catering vehicles or trailers to be able to use this derogation they must be specialised.

In the case of a specialised trailer, it isn’t necessary for the drawing vehicle to also be specialised. This means that a vehicle towing a catering/refreshment trailer would be deemed to be specialised as the trailer itself is specialised. However a vehicle or trailer without any special features for carrying (rather than towing) a catering kiosk wouldn’t be deemed to be specialised.

A vehicle (with or without a trailer) transporting catering kiosks or any other equipment used for a purpose directly connected to a circus or funfair which is going to, for example, a local market, car boot sale, sporting event, shopping centre car park etc would not be entitled to claim this derogation.

Being a member of a guild or association (such as the Showman’s Guild or the Circus Proprietors Association) does not in itself give exemption to the EC drivers’ hours requirements as the equipment carried must still be funfair or circus equipment.

Vehicles used for milk collection from farms or the return to farms of milk containers or milk products intended for animal feed.

Vehicles used exclusively on roads inside hub facilities such as ports, airports, interports and railway terminals.

This applies only to those vehicles being used within the perimeter of these areas (rather than those driving to or through the areas), although we accept that these vehicles may occasionally leave the site for vehicle maintenance purposes.

Concession for members of a vounteer force and instructors in the Cadet Corps

There is also a concession in place from the daily and weekly rest requirements specified in the EU drivers’ hours regulations for professional drivers who are also members of a volunteer reserve force (e.g the Army Reserve) or are an instructor in the Cadet Corps.

The conditions of the concession are:

  • a suspension of the requirement to take a daily rest period within a period of 24 hours when the driver commenced the weekly training as a reservist or as an instructor in the cadet corps
  • a suspension of the requirement to take a weekly rest period at the end of the six 24 hour periods from the previous weekly rest period when the driver commences their driving as a reservist or as an instructor in the cadet corps
  • a regular daily rest must still be taken before they start work for their primary employer and a regular weekly rest must be taken no later than at the end of the sixth day following training
  • the exception is limited to a maximum of:
    • ten weekend training sessions and
    • fifteen days’ annual camp training in any year
  • drivers must not attend weekend training sessions on any two consecutive weekends
  • drivers must not attend any annual camp training that takes place over the weekend that immediately follows a weekend training session that the driver has attended
  • drivers must not attend a weekend training session on the weekend that immediately follows any annual camp training that the driver has attended
  • drivers must not attend any annual camp training that takes place over the weekend that immediately follows the end of an earlier period of annual camp training that the driver has attended
  • a regular daily rest period of at least eleven hours must be taken immediately following the end of each weekend training session and at the end of each period of annual camp training
  • a regular weekly rest period of a least forty-five hours must be taken no later than the end of the sixth day following the end of the day on which a weekend training session or, as the case may be, a period of annual camp training ends

No such concessions are available for those undertaking retained fire and rescue work or volunteer police work so activities of that nature can only be undertaken if they do not impact on legally required daily and weekly rest periods or if the situation is deemed to be an emergency as detailed Emergencies.

If it is exempt from the EU rules due to the provisions listed above then the vehicle will usually be in scope of the GB domestic rules when travelling in GB see GB domestic rules.

1.2. Driving

‘Driving time’ is the duration of driving activity recorded either by the recording equipment or manually when the recording equipment is broken.

Even a short period of driving under EU rules during any day by a driver will mean that they are in scope of the EU rules for the whole of that day and must comply with the daily driving, break and rest requirements; they will also have to comply with the weekly rest requirement and driving limit.

1.3. Breaks and driving limits

Breaks

After a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes unless they take a rest period. A break taken in this way must not be interrupted. For example:

A break

A break is any period during which a driver may not carry out any driving or any other work and which is used exclusively for recuperation. A break may be taken in a moving vehicle, provided no other work is undertaken.

Alternatively, a full 45 minute break can be replaced by one break of at least 15 minutes followed by another break of at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be distributed over the 4.5 hour period. Breaks of less than 15 minutes will not contribute towards a qualifying break, but neither will they be counted as duty or driving time. The EU rules will only allow a split-break pattern that shows the second period of break being at least 30 minutes, such as in the following examples:

The above split-break pattern is illegal because the second break is less than 30 minutes.

The above split-break pattern is illegal because the second break is less than 30 minutes.

A driver ‘wipes the slate clean’ if they take a 45 minute break (or qualifying breaks totalling 45 minutes before or at the end of a 4.5 hour driving period. This means that the next 4.5 hour driving period begins with the completion of that qualifying break, and in assessing break requirements for the new 4.5 hour period, no reference is to be made to driving time accumulated before this point. For example:

Breaks may also be required under the separate Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. See Annex 2 for further details.

Daily driving limit

The maximum daily driving time is 9 hours; for example:

The maximum daily driving time can be increased to 10 hours twice in a fixed week; for example:

Daily driving time

Daily driving time is either:

  • the total accumulated driving time between the end of one daily rest period and the beginning of the following daily rest period
  • the total accumulated driving time between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period (or vice versa)

Note: All off road driving between rest periods will also count towards the daily driving limit where there is also driving on the public highway between those same rest periods.Where there is no driving on the public highway between rest periods then any off road driving is considered to be ‘other work’.

Weekly driving limit

The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours, which applies to a fixed week.

A fixed week

A fixed week starts at 00.00 on Monday and ends at 24.00 on the following Sunday.

The following diagram shows an example of how this might be achieved:

Total weekly hours = (4 x 9) + (2 x 10) = 56.

Two-weekly driving limit

The maximum driving time over any two-weekly period is 90 hours; for example:

The following is an example of how a driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly and two-weekly driving limits:

1.4. Daily rest periods

A driver must take a daily rest period within each period of 24 hours after the end of the previous daily or weekly rest period. An 11 hour (or more) daily rest is called a regular daily rest period.

A rest

A rest is an uninterrupted period where a driver may freely dispose of their time.

Time spent working in other employment or under obligation or instruction, regardless of the occupation type, cannot be counted as rest. This includes work where you are self-employed, work related to community service, non-emergency retained fire fighting, or training related to obtaining/retaining a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) where the training is at the request or instigation of an employer. DCPC training can only be undertaken during rest periods where the driver is attending voluntarily and not at the request of the employer.

For information on emergency situations please go to Emergencies

Alternatively, a driver can split a regular daily rest period into two periods. The first period must be at least 3 hours of uninterrupted rest and can be taken at any time during the day. The second must be at least 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, giving a total minimum rest of 12 hours. For example:

A driver may reduce their daily rest period to no less than 9 continuous hours, but this can be done no more than three times between any two weekly rest periods; no compensation for the reduction is required. A daily rest that is less than 11 hours but at least 9 hours long is called a reduced daily rest period.

When a daily rest is taken, this may be taken in a vehicle, as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

Suitable sleeping facilities

We consider suitable sleeping facilities to be a bunk or other type of bed which is primarily designed for sleeping on. Sleeping on or across seats does not meet the requirement of suitable facilities. If a vehicle has no suitable sleeping facilities then other arrangements, for example guest house or hotel accommodation, should be used.

To summarise, a driver who begins work at 06.00 on day 1 must, by 06.00 on day 2 at the latest, have completed either:

  • a regular daily rest period of at least 11 hours or
  • a split regular daily rest period of at least 12 hours or
  • if entitled a reduced daily rest period of at least 9 hours

Regular daily rest

A continuous period of at least 11 hours’ rest.

Split daily rest period

A regular rest taken in two separate periods – the first at least 3 hours, and the second at least 9 hours.

Reduced daily rest period

A continuous rest period of at least 9 hours but less than 11 hours.

Multi-manning

‘Multi-manning’ is the situation where, during each period of driving between any two consecutive daily rest periods, or between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period, there are at least two drivers in the vehicle to do the driving. For the first hour of multi-manning the presence of another driver or drivers is optional, but for the remainder of the period it is compulsory. This allows for a vehicle to depart from its operating centre and collect a second driver along the way, providing that this is done within 1 hour of the first driver starting work.

Where the above conditions are complied with then the multi-manning concession may be used – that is each driver must have a daily rest period of at least 9 consecutive hours but they may do so within the 30-hour period that starts at the end of the last daily or weekly rest period (rather than the normal 24 hour period).

If however the conditions cannot be complied with, then drivers sharing duties on a journey will individually be governed by single manning rules and will not be able to use the concession which allows daily rest to be taken in a 30 hour period.

Organising drivers’ duties in such a fashion enables a crew’s duties to be spread over 21 hours however where a driver utilises the multi-manning daily rest concession (of 9 hours rest in a 30 hour period) that rest period cannot be counted as a regular daily rest as it is of less than 11 hours duration. These rest periods therefore count towards the limit of 3 reduced rest periods between any 2 consecutive weekly rest periods.

Drivers engaged on multi-manning can however, if they choose, take either:

  • a split daily rest within the 30 hour period so long as it taken as the first period being at least 3 hours and the second period being at least 9 hours
  • a rest period of at least 11 hours in the 30 hour period

Both of these options are regular daily rest period and so would not count towards the limit of three reduced daily rest period between weekly rest periods.

This is an example of how the duties of a two-man crew could be organised to take maximum advantage of multi-manning daily rest concession:

The maximum driving time for a two-man crew taking advantage of this concession is 20 hours before a daily rest is required (although only if both drivers are entitled to drive 10 hours).

Under multi-manning, the ‘second’ driver in a crew may not necessarily be the same driver for the duration of the first driver’s shift but could in principle be any number of drivers as long as the conditions are met. Whether these second drivers could claim the multi-manning concession in these circumstances would depend on their other duties.

On a multi-manning operation, 45 minutes of a period of availability will be considered to be a break, so long as the co-driver does no work.

Other than the daily rest concession detailed above drivers engaged in multi-manning are governed by the same rules that apply to single-manned vehicles.

Journeys involving ferry or train transport

Where a driver accompanies a vehicle that is being transported by ferry or train, the daily rest requirements are more flexible.

A regular daily rest period, that is one of 11 hours duration or 12 hours if split, may be interrupted no more than twice, but the total interruption must not exceed 1 hour in total. This allows for a vehicle to be driven on to a ferry and off again at the end of the crossing. Where the rest period is interrupted in this way, the total accumulated rest period must still be at least 11 hours or 12 hours if split. A bunk or couchette must be available during the rest period.

Drivers who are engaged on multi-manning can also interrupt a rest period however they may only do so where the rest period in the 30 hour spreadover is a regular daily rest of at least 11 hours or 12 hours if it is a split daily rest.

Any rest that is interrupted must be completed within the 24 hour period (if single manned) or within the 30 hours period (if multi-manned). The 24 or 30 hour period commences at the point of starting duty following the end of a daily or weekly rest period.

For example, a qualifying regular daily rest period could be interrupted in the following manner:

For example, a split daily rest could be interrupted in the following manner:

It is also permitted to have one of the interruption periods falling in the 3 hour part of the split rest period and one interruption period falling in the 9 hour part of the split rest period or for both parts of the interruption period to fall within the 3 hour part of the split daily rest.

Being on call during a daily rest period

Drivers who are on call during any period of legally required rest must at all times be able to dispose of the rest time as they choose. This means that an employer cannot impose any limitations on drivers during such periods, for example requiring them to remain in or close to home or at another location. Drivers must be able to dispose of their free time as they choose (but this does not include undertaking any work where they are under the control of or are fulfilling an obligation to an employer). Being on call may only extend as far as a driver agreeing to answer a call during a rest period but only if the driver so chooses. On receiving a call to return to work drivers may only do so if they have completed the legally required amount of rest or if the work is deemed to be an emergency See Emergencies.

1.5. Weekly rest periods

A driver must start a weekly rest period no later than at the end of six consecutive 24-hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest period.

A regular weekly rest period is a period of at least 45 consecutive hours.

A weekly rest period

A weekly rest period is the weekly period during which drivers may freely dispose of their time. It may be either a ‘regular weekly rest period’ or a ‘reduced weekly rest period’.

Time spent working in other employment or under obligation or instruction, regardless of the occupation type, cannot be counted as rest. This includes work where you are self-employed, work related to community service, non-emergency* retained fire fighting, or training related to obtaining/retaining a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) where the training is at the request or instigation of an employer. DCPC training can only be undertaken during rest periods where the driver is attending voluntarily.

  • For work related to emergencies please go to Emergencies

Note: An actual working week starts at the end of a weekly rest period, and finishes when another weekly rest period is commenced, which may mean that weekly rest is taken in the middle of a fixed (Monday–Sunday) week. This is perfectly acceptable – the working week is not required to be aligned with the ‘fixed’ week defined in the rules, provided all the relevant limits are complied with.

Alternatively, a driver can take a reduced weekly rest period of a minimum of 24 consecutive hours. If a reduction is taken, it must be compensated for by an equivalent period of rest taken in one block before the end of the third week following the week in question. The compensating rest must be attached to a period of rest of at least 9 hours – in effect either a weekly or a daily rest period.

For example, where a driver reduces a weekly rest period to 33 hours in week 1, they must compensate for this by attaching a 12-hour period of rest to another rest period of at least 9 hours before the end of week 4. This compensation cannot be taken in several smaller periods. (See example below.)

A regular weekly rest period

A regular weekly rest is a period of rest of at least 45 hours’ duration.

A reduced weekly rest period

A reduced weekly rest is a rest period of at least 24 but less than 45 hours’ duration.

In any two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks a driver must take at least:

  • 2 regular weekly rests or
  • one regular weekly rest and one reduced weekly rest

Note: Other weekly rests of any type may be taken in any 2 consecutive ‘fixed weeks’ in addition to this minimum requirement.

The following tables are examples of how a driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly rest, which allow two reduced weekly rest periods to be taken consecutively. This complies with the rules because at least one regular and one reduced weekly rest period have been taken in two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks.

The following table is an example of how the driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly rest, whereby one reduced weekly rest period may be taken in any period of two consecutive weeks under ‘normal’ circumstances.

A weekly rest period that falls in 2 weeks may be counted in either week but not in both. However, where such a rest period is of at least 69 hours in total and starts in one fixed week and ends in the next fixed week, it may be counted as 2 back-to-back weekly rests (eg a 45-hour weekly rest followed by 24 hours), provided that no more than 144 hours (6 x 24 hours) has elapsed since the end of the previous weekly rest period and start of the following weekly rest period.

Where reduced weekly rest periods are taken away from base, these may be taken in a vehicle, provided that it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

Suitable sleeping facilities - we consider suitable sleeping facilities to be a bunk or other type of bed which is primarily designed for sleeping on. Sleeping on or across seats does not meet the requirement of suitable facilities. If a vehicle has no suitable sleeping facilities then other arrangements, for example guest house or hotel accommodation, should be used.

Note: Operators who utilise a cyclical shift pattern should take care that their shift patterns allow for compliance with the rolling two-weekly requirements for weekly rest and compensation.

Being on call during a weekly rest period

Drivers who are on call during any period of legally required rest must at all times be able to dispose of the rest time as they choose. This means that an employer cannot impose any limitations on drivers during such periods, for example requiring them to remain in or close to home or at another location. Drivers must be able to dispose of their free time as they choose (but this does not include undertaking any work where they are under the control of or are fulfilling an obligation to an employer). Being on call may only extend as far as a driver agreeing to answer a call during a rest period but only if the driver so chooses. On receiving a call to return to work drivers may only do so if they have completed the legally required amount of rest or if the work is deemed to be an emergency. see Emergencies.

1.6. Emergencies

The EU rules do not define an ‘emergency’ but we consider this would certainly include any of the situations that would be considered an emergency for the purposes of the GB domestic drivers’ hours legislation, namely:

  • danger to the life or health of people or animals
  • serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity or drainage), of telecommunication and postal services, or in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports
  • serious damage to property

Vehicles used in connection with emergency or rescue operations would be exempt from the EU rules for the duration of the emergency. However drivers who have interrupted a rest period to attend an emergency would be required to commence/complete a qualifying rest period before recommencing work.

1.7. Travelling time

Drivers of goods vehicles are sometimes required to travel to a vehicle they are required to drive or from a vehicle they have driven.

Where a vehicle coming within the scope of the EU rules is neither at the driver’s home nor at the employer’s operational centre where the driver is normally based, but is at a separate location, time spent travelling to or from that location to take charge of the vehicle, regardless of the mode of transport, cannot be counted as a rest or break, unless the driver is in a ferry or train and has access to a bunk or couchette. Even if the driver is not paid or makes the decision themselves to travel to or from home/base the travel time cannot be counted as rest or break.

For example: If a driver had to drive for 1 hour by car to pick up a vehicle from a location that was not the driver’s home or their normal operating base then this driving would count as other work. Similarly, if they had to drive back by car from a location that was not their normal operating base, this would count as other work.

1.8. Unforeseen events

Provided that road safety is not jeopardised, and to enable a driver to reach a suitable stopping place, a departure from the EU rules may be permitted to the extent necessary to ensure the safety of persons, the vehicle or its load. Drivers must note all the reasons for doing so on the back of their tachograph record sheets (if using an analogue tachograph) or on a printout or temporary sheet (if using a digital tachograph) at the latest on reaching the suitable stopping place (see relevant sections covering manual entries). Repeated and regular occurrences, however, might indicate to enforcement officers that employers were not in fact scheduling work to enable compliance with the applicable rules.

A judgment by the European Court of Justice dated 9 November 1995 provides a useful guide to how this provision should be interpreted. It can apply only in cases where it unexpectedly becomes impossible to comply with the rules on drivers’ hours during the course of a journey. In other words, planned breaches of the rules are not allowed. This means that when an unforeseen event occurs, it would be for the driver to decide whether it was necessary to depart from the rules. In doing so, a driver would have to take into account the need to ensure road safety in the process (eg when driving a vehicle carrying an abnormal load under the Special Types regulations) and any instruction that may be given by an enforcement officer (eg when under police escort).

Some examples of such events are delays caused by severe weather, road traffic accidents, mechanical breakdowns, interruptions of ferry services and any event that causes or is likely to cause danger to the life or health of people or animals. Note that this concession only allows for drivers to reach a suitable stopping place, not necessarily to complete their planned journey. Drivers and operators would be expected to reschedule any disrupted work to remain in compliance with the EU rules.

1.9. Summary of EU limits on drivers’ hours

The current limits on drivers’ hours as specified by the EU rules are summarised below.

Breaks from driving

A break of no less than 45 minutes must be taken after no more than 4.5 hours of driving. The break can be divided into 2 periods - the first at least 15 minutes long and the second at least 30 minutes - taken over the 4.5 hours.

Daily driving

Maximum of 9 hours, extendable to 10 hours no more than twice a week.

Weekly driving

Maximum of 56 hours.

Two-weekly driving

Maximum of 90 hours in any 2 week period.

Daily rest

Minimum of 11 hours, which can be reduced to a minimum of 9 hours no more than 3 times between weekly rests. May be taken in 2 periods, the first at least 3 hours long and the second at least 9 hours long. The rest must be completed within 24 hours of the end of the last daily or weekly rest period.

Multi-manning daily rest

A 9-hour daily rest must be taken within a period of 30 hours that starts from the end of the last daily or weekly rest period. For the first hour of multi-manning, the presence of another driver is optional, but for the remaining time is compulsory.

Ferry/train daily rest

A regular daily rest period (of at least 11 hours) may be interrupted no more than twice by other activities of not more than 1 hour’s duration in total, provided that the driver is accompanying a vehicle that is travelling by ferry or train and has access to a bunk or couchette.

Weekly rest

A regular weekly rest of at least 45 hours, or reduced weekly rest of a least 24 hours, must be started no later than the end of a 6 consecutive 24-hour period from the end of the last weekly rest. In any 2 consecutive weeks a driver must have at least 2 weekly rests - one of which must be at least 45 hours long. A weekly rest that falls across 2 weeks may be counted in either week but not both. Any reductions must be compensated in one block by an equivalent rest added to another rest period of at least 9 hours before the end of the third week following the week in question.

1.10. AETR rules

Journeys to or through the countries that are signatories to the AETR Agreement see list EU, AETR and EEA countries are subject to AETR rules. AETR rules apply to the whole journey, including any EU countries passed through.

The AETR rules are the same as the EU rules. The same exemptions that apply to EU journeys also apply to AETR journeys – see Exemptions.

For more information refer to the AETR agreement.

1.11. Working Time Regulations

Drivers who are subject to the EU rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs normally have also to comply with the rules on working time as laid out in the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations, which were brought into force on 4 April 2005. (For the main provisions, see Annex 2. )