A Quick Guide to Basic Working Hours For HGV Drivers in the UK

Adhering to strict driver hours coupled with vehicle safety technology is one of the key ways that both drivers and fleet managers manage to keep HGVs safe. Overworked or overtired drivers are more likely to have a lapse in their concentration or make an incorrect decision.

Unfortunately, where HGVs are concerned, all it takes is a second or two for a devastating and possibly deadly incident to unfold. Overtired drivers can even fall asleep at the wheel, and while today’s vehicle safety technologies have been designed for such an eventuality, it is never acceptable to take the risk knowingly.

The above key reasons highlight why it is so important for both drivers and employers to be aware of what their core obligations are when it comes to driver hours. It can be challenging at times to work out how to plan a driver’s schedule depending on the kind of work they do, that’s why we have provided an incredibly simple guide below. Before we get into that if you are interested in getting lorry driver training than see here.

HGV driving hours limits in the United Kingdom

The rules governing driving hours in the UK are actually based on the EU regulations, but they are also enshrined in UK law. The main rules are:

  • The daily maximum driving limit is 9 hours (It may be increased up to 10 hours, but only twice a week)
  • The weekly maximum driving limit is 56 hours
  • The fortnightly maximum driving limit is 90 hours

The legally mandated breaks HGV drivers are required to take

HGV drivers are required by law to take a break of at least 45 minutes after 4.5 hours of driving. This driving duration can be continuous and all done in one sitting or composed of multiple shorter periods. Either way, once HGV drivers reach that first 4 hours and 30 minutes mark, they are required to take a break of 45 minutes.

Like the actual driving, this too can be done in just one sitting. The driver can alternatively decide to take what is known as a split break that consists of one 15-minute period that’s closely followed by another 30-minute period.

If the first period in a split break is below 15 minutes, then officially it won’t count as a break and won’t be considered driving time either. The only split breaks that will count are those with a minimum of 15 minutes plus the minimum of 30 minutes. If these are not honoured, the driver and fleet manager could be guilty of committing a criminal offence.

What is the difference between working time and driving time?

While they might sound the same, they actually aren’t. Driving time refers to the time spent behind the wheel while working time is defined as anything that you do in connection with transport operation. It includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Loading and unloading
  • Driving
  • Vehicle cleaning and maintenance
  • Driver CPC training or industry-specific job training
  • Administrative duties
  • Daily vehicle defect check and report
  • Monitoring of any loading/unloading activities

Waiting periods where the foreseeable duration is not known in advance by the driver

Under this system, driving time is a form of working time. The hours for working time are not necessarily defined in the same way, and the implications may be complex. You can find an excellent comprehensive guide that goes into greater detail if you need it.