UK HGV Driving Hours Explained

hgv driving hours weekly rest

What does HGV weekly rest mean?

A HGV (heavy goods vehicle) weekly rest is a continuous period in which a driver is required to rest in compliance with regulation. These regulations cover all drivers of heavy goods vehicles, also known as large goods vehicles (LGV) and trailers. Since HGV driving can take long hours, drivers must stick to the rules that govern long-distance driving.

A regular HGV weekly rest period should last at least 45 consecutive hours.

UK HGV Driving Laws: rules and hours

Operators of Heavy Goods Vehicles (vehicles that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes) are subject to EU driving rules. The principal EU regulations limit HGV driving hours to a maximum of:

  • Nine hours a day (it can be extended up to 10 hours twice a week)
  • 56 hours every week
  • 90 hours in a consecutive fortnight

EU driving rules necessitates that all driving must be recorded on a tachograph. A tachograph is a gadget equipped to an automobile to record driving periods, distances, and speed.

Learn more: what is the 6 Hour Rule?

Driving looking at watch, recording driving hours

Several compulsions on HGV driving breaks are also included in EU rules and regulations. Drivers must:

  1. Get a rest period of at least 11 hours daily – they can shorten this term up to nine hours rest period but only thrice a week.
  2. Have an uninterrupted rest period of 45 hours weekly – they can reduce it to 24 hours every week.
  3. Take break periods of at least 45 minutes after four and a half hours of constant driving.

Get a Free Guide: UK HGV Driving Breaks PDF


What is the significance of these UK HGV laws?

Heavy goods vehicles tend to be more involved in fatal crashes due to their high mass. This, in turn, spells dire consequences for other drivers on the road. HGV Driving Hours and HGV driving breaks are strictly regulated, and the EU’s mandatory regulations have been supported as part of crash avoidance measures. These HGV laws play an essential role in:

Speed limitation

Road sign

In England and Wales, commercial vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons are limited to speeds of 50 mph on single-carriageway roads and 60 mph on dual carriageway roads. It is approximated that the speed restriction has lessened regular fatal accidents by 2 percent.

Road vision

Many fatal crashes between road users and trucks happen when a truck is turning right. This is because the truck driver’s perception is restrained from seeing pedestrians and cyclists. Due to this the EU endorsed a code on rearview mirrors to upgrade the safety of pedestrians.

Further steps have been taken with the installation of full angle mirrors to a variety of automobiles to enhance the vision of the driver.

Breaking and stability

Loss of vehicle control due to sudden reduced speed, poor steering tendencies by drivers or abrupt evasive movements to avoid collision cause trucks and HGVs to plunge or drift. To fix this, the EU requires that a vehicle’s movement be continuously supervised.

These include the rollover stability system, which fundamentally lowers engine capability and administers a halt once a potential imbalance is established.

Traffic cone to encourage driving breaks

Fatigue and exhaustion by truck drivers is a serious concern that has brought about fatalities in commercial transits. The long distances covered by HGVs and often erratic shift arrangements, has negative impacts on the sleep and alertness of a driver.

Installation of digital tachographs as a rule by the EU has helped reduce fatigue-related accidents. The tachographs register all heavy-duty truck activities, including HGV weekly rest periods, driving hours and pace of the vehicle. It is essential that employees abide by HGV driving breaks for the safety of everyone on the road.

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FAQs: HGV Driving Hours Explained in Detail

The following questions and answers will ensure you understand the rules about HGV driving hours and how Vimcar enables you to achieve them.

A driver recording his driving hours

What is the 6 hour rule?

It suggests that a driver should not have more than six driving hours without taking a break. Moreover, before working beyond the 6 hours, you must have taken a break of at least 15 minutes.

What does the “period of availability” have to do with driving time? This is the waiting time which duration is known in advance by the self-employed driver or the mobile worker? During this waiting time, both drivers should not stay at their work station. But they must be available when the need arises. Get to learn more about this here.

What is the working time directive?

The working time directive refers to the 6-hour rule: you cannot work more than 6 hours without taking a break from driving. You must take a 15-minute break, minimum, before working again after those 6 hours.

Is there an app to track HGV driving hours?

Yes, you can use a fleet tracking tool like Fleet Geo that will track your drivers’ hours and mileage digitally and automatically. You can also record this on a timesheet in combination with a tool like Fleet Geo or independently. If you are interested, make sure to get our timesheet template.

How do I keep track of my driving hours?

This is through ELD rules mandated to create a safer work environment and provide a more consistent, accurate and accessible method of logging your driving hours. Again, make sure to get our timesheet template to record this.

How many 15 hour shifts can a HGV driver do?

HGV driving hour rules explain how you have to do a minimum of 9 hours rest within a 24 hour period. As a result, HGV drivers can only do three 15-hour shifts in a week.

Do HGV driving hour rules allow you to drive 7 days in a row?

No, you can only drive a maximum of 6 days in a row between weekly rests.

Get a Free Guide: UK HGV Driving Breaks PDF


Ways to implement efficient HGV driving hours rules

There are 3 main ways to implement effective rules. Here is HGV driving hours rules explained:

1. Strategy Development

Recording your HGV driving hours weekly rest on a laptop

This includes a protocol for management to establish work-related road safety strategies at the local, state and national levels. Work program measures to select safer vehicles, driver training and education programs, and incentive programs have potential effectiveness.

2. Vehicle Performance and Maintenance

When selecting new vehicles, safety should be a top consideration of a fleet manager. The car is picked based on the most secure automobile within a justifiable budget. Safety performance ratings such as New Car Assessment Programmes administer safety rating blueprints showing the best and the worst-performing trucks. 

3. Safer Fleet Management System

Investing in the right fleet management software and hardware can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your drivers safe and following HGV driving rules. Tracking hours, driving speeds, and being able to check in on a vehicle’s location 

The density of a truck plays a significant role during an accident. This necessitates the need for additional crash protection features such as anti-whiplash protection, side airbag, and driver-side airbags in an automobile.  Electronic stability control and daytime running lights are preferred features in a car. 

Traffic cones

Safety is becoming a bigger priority and it is likely the industry will continuously see stricter HGV laws on professional capability and road safety. Additionally the industry is changing from a male-dominated workforce to a more gender-neutral industry with more women working as HGV drivers. There is an expected increase in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), a truck safety technology that ensures safer driving experience and adherence to HGV Driving Hours. The number of electric vehicles is also expected to increase, boosting efficiency and safety.

The Importance of Driving Breaks, Fines & HGV Laws

Driving takes a lot of skills, concentration, and control that’s difficult to maintain for hours on end, making frequent driving breaks critical to maintaining a high quality of safe and efficient driving.

Driving breaks ensures that drivers stay alert and avoid any associated risks of driving for too long without rest. These risks consist of running out of fuel, sleeping while driving, and reduced reaction times. Driving tired impairs judgement and slows reaction time. This can make one brake late or even miss a hazard and may explain why it’s a risk for most rear-end crashes.

Fines for Breaking UK Commercial Driving Break Rules

While there isn’t any specific offense for driving when tired, the DVSA traffic examiners now issue fines to deal with drivers who don’t rest. Bus, coach, and truck drivers must have 45 hours of rest break at least every two weeks. Since November 1, 2017, DVSA has been giving fines of up to £300 to those who spend their entire break time in their vehicles in restricted areas. There were 6,300 driver’s hours’ fines issued to truck drivers by DVSA between April 2015 and March 2016.

Traffic light on red

The DVSA announced a new rule on March 5, 2018, that enforces new on-the-spot fines for drivers. Under the new recommendations, drivers can be fined up to £1500 in one stop if found to have up to five drivers’ hours offences over the last 28 days, as noted on their tachograph. Drivers with more than five violations in the previous 28 days are prosecuted and may pay fines or be prohibited to drive.

A driver may face hefty fines and penalties if their failure to take driving breaks results in other offences. For instance, if they drive dangerously and end up killing someone, they may attract a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

Tachograph Offences and Punishment

A tachograph is a manual or digital device that monitors and records driver activity – like speed, time, and distance. It is a legal requirement that tachographs are installed in every public and commercial vehicles that exceeds a weight of 3.5 tons or those that fall under the domestic EU, UK, or AETR laws. Today, tachographs gather data digitally, store it, and transfer it to a unique driver card to be assessed by the fleet manager.

When a driver fails to take a driving break, he or she can be sanctioned through the following ways:

  • Verbal warnings
  • Offence rectification notice
  • Prohibition
  • Prosecution
  • Referral to the traffic commissioner

Last Words on Driving Breaks & UK HGV Laws

Driving while tired increases the risk of an accident. That’s why drivers need to take the recommended driving breaks to rest, unwind, and rejuvenate themselves.

Read more: HGV Drivers Hours Simplified


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