Regulations For Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers in Britain

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Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in Britain must comply with stated rules and regulations to stay legal on the road.

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Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in Britain must comply with stated rules and regulations to stay legal on the road. This information is compiled from multiple Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) sources and represents the latest HGV driver rules.

Which rules apply?

Your vehicle’s weight, where you drive, and the goods you are hauling all help determine the rules you’ll need to follow.

EU rules: If the maximum permissible weight of your HGV is over 3.5 tonnes and you are driving anywhere within the EU, including the UK, you are subject to EU regulations. This also applies to European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland.

GB domestic rules: If your vehicle’s weight is less than 3.5 tonnes or you meet one of the various exemptions to EU driving rules, you will be subject instead to Great Britain’s domestic driving regulations.

Driving hours

As an HGV driver, you must carefully track the hours you drive and stay within legal limits. The rules for hours you can drive depend on where you drive and the type of trip you are making.

EU rules: EU rules allow you to drive 9 hours in a standard day, with an allowance for two 10-hours days during the week. In total, you cannot drive more than 56 hours per week or more than 90 hours during a two-week period.

GB domestic rules: If GB rules apply to your trip (see above), the rules are somewhat different. Under GB rules, the concept of duty time is important. If you work as a driver for a company, then any time you are working is considered duty time, whether or not you are driving. However, if you are a self-employed driver, only the time you spend actually driving or working with a vehicle load is considered duty time.

In any given day, drivers cannot be on duty for more than 11 hours, unless it is a day when you are not driving. You are not allowed to drive for more than 10 hours in a day on public roads or off-road if outside of duty time. Off-road driving counts as part of duty time if done for forestry, agriculture, quarrying, or building work or civil engineering.

Required breaks

In additions to limits on driving hours, the law requires that drivers take regular breaks and have scheduled time off. These measures are designed to improve driver safety.

EU rules: If your trip falls under EU regulations, here are the basics you need to follow to stay legal:

  • Each day you should take 11 hours off from driving. However, in that in any two-week period you can reduce the break period to 9 hours up to three times.
  • In a standard week, you are required to take two consecutive days off, or more specifically 45 hours of unbroken rest. If required, this period can be reduced to one 24-hour period every other week.
  • After 4.5 hours of driving, you are required to take at least a 45-minute break.
  • You can work no more than six 24-hour periods before taking the required weekly rest of 45 hours (see above).

GB domestic rules: Domestic regulations have a similar list of requirements:

  • After 5.5 hours of driving, you must take at least a 30-mniute break. Within any 8.5-hour period of driving, you are required to take at least 45 minutes of break time.
  • The beginning and ending of a shift cannot be more than 16 hours long, even if you aren’t driving for all of that time. All duties must start and end within a 24-hour period.
  • You are required to take 10 hours off before the first shift of a new week and immediately after the last duty of the week. You are required to rest at least 10 hours spread across two days, but up to three times per week this period can be reduced to 8.5 hours.
  • Every two weeks you must take at least one 24-hour consecutive period off.

Reporting requirements

If any of the HGV driving you do falls under EU rules, the law requires you to use a digital tachograph. Tachographs accurately record driving hours, speed, and driving distance. Tachograph information for individual drivers is stored on driver smart cards, which can be obtained by completing a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) form. If you need a tachograph smart card for your haulage company, use this DVLA form.

If your driving falls under GB domestic rules, you can record hours on a weekly record sheet if you do not have a tachograph.

Regulations are complex and are subject to change. Check the government’s Driving and Transport page for more details and specific exemptions.

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