An Informative Guide to UK Working Hour Standards for HGV Drivers


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One of the fundamental ways in which fleet managers and drivers can contribute to HGVs’ safety is by following strict driver-hour regulations alongside the implementation of the latest safety technology. A driver who is overworked or overtired is prone to making incorrect decisions or losing focus, leading to fatal accidents within seconds in the case of HGVs. Even with advanced safety systems such as StopSafe, it is never acceptable to knowingly take this risk.

It is crucial for both drivers and employers to understand their fundamental duties regarding driver hours. However, determining the appropriate schedule for a driver can be challenging, depending on their type of work. To address this, provided below is a straightforward guide that outlines driver schedule planning. Prior to reviewing this guide, an HGV learning course may prove to be beneficial.

Restrictions on the number of hours UK HGV drivers can operate

The regulations governing driving hours are based on the guidelines established by the European Union and are also incorporated into the legal framework of the United Kingdom. Key requirements include the ones outlined below.

The daily driving restriction is set at 9 hours but can be extended to 10 hours a maximum of twice per week. The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours, while the maximum fortnightly limit is 90 hours.

Legally required rest periods for heavy goods vehicle operators

Once a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver has been driving continuously or in multiple short time periods for 4.5 hours, they must take a minimum break of at least 45 minutes. It is a legal requirement for HGV drivers to follow this rule whether they have driven continuously or in several short bursts for 4.5 hours.

Similar to driving, a driver can choose to take a break all at once or choose a split break that consists of a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break.

In the case of a split break, If the first break lasts less than 15 minutes, it will not be considered an official break, and it will not be counted as driving time. To be classified as a break, split breaks must meet specific requirements, including lasting at least 15 minutes and being accompanied by a 30-minute minimum break. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in the driver and fleet manager being charged with a criminal offence.

How working time differs from driving time

While often used interchangeably, working time and driving time are distinct concepts. Working time is defined as any activity related to transport operation while driving time refers specifically to time spent operating a vehicle.

The following list is not exhaustive, but it encompasses:

  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • “Unloading and loading” refers to the process of removing
  • Supervising the process of loading or unloading
  • Specialised job training or driver CPC training specific to a particular industry.
  • Ensuring regular sanitation and maintenance of automobiles.
  • A routine inspection and inventory of vehicle defects, followed by a report, is performed on a daily basis.
  • Administrative tasks refer to various non-core
  • “Indeterminate waiting periods” can occur when the duration of the wait is uncertain or unknown.

Under this system, the time spent driving is regarded as a form of working time. However, it’s important to note that working hours are not always defined in the same way, and there may be intricate consequences to consider. For those seeking further clarity on this topic, an excellent and comprehensive guide is available as a resource.