Explainer: What Are The Legal Working Hours For HGV Drivers In The UK?

Top Reasons to Adhere to the Legal HGV Driving Hours

Apart from taking advantage of the safety technology available in most vehicles today, fleet managers and drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) can ensure the safety of their vehicles and that of other road users by strictly adhering and sticking to the HGV driver hours spelt out in road traffic laws. A tired or overworked driver can let their concentration stray away from the road or make an incorrect decision – and when it comes to HGVs, a split second is enough for a fatal accident of gargantuan proportions to occur. An overly tired HGV driver can also snooze behind the wheel, and though we have a StopSafe system has been designed for just such an eventuality, no fleet manager should accept an HGV driver to get behind the while for too long knowing that an avoidable fatal accident may occur as a result of such an action.

In some instances, determining how to plan a driver’s working hours can be complicated and arduous given that work assignments for HGV drivers tend to change depending on client needs. To help both fleet managers and drivers understand the legal limits when it comes to driving hours, we have compiled a detailed guide containing MUST-KNOW road regulations for HGV drivers in the UK. Alternatively, if you would like information on ‘lorry driver training‘ before reading the article see here.

What Are the Driving Hour Limits for HGV Drivers in the UK?

The UK rules on the legal driving hours for HGV drivers are based on EU regulations but they are also enshrined in British Law. Some of the key rules for UK HGV drivers include:

  1. There is a 9-hour daily driving limit. This limit can be increased to 10 hours but this 1-hour increase can only be effected twice a week
  2. There is a maximum 56-hour weekly driving limit
  3. There is a maximum 90-hour driving limit enforceable for each fortnight

What Are the Legally Mandated Breaks for HGV Drivers in the UK?

The law stipulates that after driving for 4.5 hours, an HGV driver must take a break that lasts at least 45 minutes. The 4.5 hours driving time can either be done continuously in one sitting or be composed of several smaller driving periods. Either way, once an HGV driver accumulates 4.5 hours of driving time, they are legally required to take a break that lasts not less than 45 minutes.

The 45-minute break that we are talking about above can either be done continuously in one sitting or it can also be divided into several breaks (split-breaks). For example, an HGV driver can drive the first drive for 2.5 hours and take a 15-minute break, and then drive for another 2 hours and take a 30-minute break. In total, such a driver will have driven for a total of 4.5 hours and rested for a total of 45 minutes – just as proscribed by law.

Note that the law does not recognise a split-break that is under 15 minutes. For example, if a driver is on the road for a total of 4.5 hours and they make two stops, if the driver rests for 10 minutes at one stop and another 35 minutes during their final stop, the 10-minute break will not be recognised and this means that the driver will have flouted road traffic rules on legally mandated breaks a criminal offence in the UK.

What Is the Difference Between Driving Time and Working Time?

Many drivers and fleet managers often think that these two terms have a similar meaning but they do not.

Driving time is any time spent by a driver behind the wheel on the road.

On the other hand, working time is any time that a driver spends handling any duties relating to their overall transportation duties. The working time for a driver encompasses (but is not limited) to time spent on the following operations:

• Driving
• Loading and unloading of goods
• Supervising/monitoring the loading and unloading of items on the vehicle
• Receiving training on industry-specific tasks
• Receiving CPC training
• Inspecting the vehicle for defects
• Crafting a report on the results obtained from checking for defects
• Cleaning and maintaining the vehicle in perfect condition
• Administrative tasks
• Waiting periods wherein the driver is unable to gauge how long they will be on-hold

Note that the hours for driving time are not necessarily defined the same way as the hours for working time which means that the implications can be complex for a driver or fleet manager looking to strictly adhere to UK road laws and regulations. We have a complex guide that delves deeper into driving time if you want to learn more on this subject.