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Driver Hours Explained

Are you a haulage operator or a lorry driver looking to navigate the complex world of HGV drivers' hours and working time regulations? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we unravel the intricacies of these regulations and provide you with a clear understanding of the rules governing your driving hours and rest periods.

HGV Driving Time Illustration

Driving Limits & Breaks
  • 4.5 Hours Driving
  • 45 Min. Break
  • 4.5 Hours Driving

Twice weekly the daily hours of driving can increase from 9 to 10 hours per day

Split Breaks
  • x Hours Driving
  • 15 Min Break
  • x Hours Driving
  • 30 Min Break
  • 4.5 Hours Driving

x+x cannot be more than 4.5 hours of driving. As a rule of thumb, Short break first.

Maximum Driving per Week 
  • Day 1 - 9 Hours Drive
  • Day 2 - 10 Hours Drive
  • Day 3 - 9 Hours Drive
  • Day 4 - 10 Hours Drive
  • Day 5 - 9 Hours Drive
  • Day 6 - 9 Hours Drive
Maximum Drive Time = 56 Hours
Fortnightly Maximums
  • Week 1 - 56 Hours
  • Week 2 - 34 Hours
  • Week 3 - 56 Hours
  • Week 4 - 34 Hours
The total driving time between any 2 weeks must not exceed 90 Hours


Zed Aziz

Understanding HGV Drivers' Hours and Working Time Regulations: A Comprehensive Guide
One of the questions or queries I get most often from drivers and operators is about understanding Driver hours.
As a haulage operator or lorry driver, you're no stranger to the complex and often perplexing regulations surrounding HGV drivers' hours and tachographs. Determining the number of hours you can drive as a UK HGV driver and comprehending the rules on breaks and rest periods can be a challenging task. That's why, at TheftC, we have compiled this comprehensive guide called "HGV Drivers' Hours Explained." Our goal is to simplify the existing rules on HGV driving hours and provide you with a clear understanding of how EU drivers' hours and the HGV working time directive interact.
Unraveling the Regulations:
In this guide, we will break down the key regulations outlined in the EU drivers' hours rules and the HGV working time directive (WTD), ensuring that you have a thorough grasp of the subject.
EU Driver's Hours Rules:

To ensure safe driving practices and prevent driver fatigue, certain limits and rules apply:

Driving Hours: The maximum daily driving limit is 9 hours, which can be extended to 10 hours twice a week. The weekly driving limit should not exceed 56 hours, and the fortnightly limit is set at 90 hours. This in essence the core rule which has to be satisfied. 

Drivers' Hours Breaks:

Taking regular breaks is crucial for staying alert and preventing fatigue:

  • Breaks after 4.5 Hours of Driving: After a continuous or intermittent driving period of 4.5 hours, you must take a break of at least 45 minutes, unless you opt for a rest period instead.

  • Split Breaks: You can split your break into two periods. The first break must be a minimum of 15 minutes, and the subsequent break should be at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be completed after 4.5 hours of driving.

  • Clarification on Short Breaks: Breaks of less than 15 minutes are not considered valid breaks, although they are not classified as driving time either.

Drivers' Hours Rest Periods:

To ensure drivers receive adequate rest, specific rest period requirements are set:

  • Regular Daily Rest Period: A daily rest period of 11 hours is mandatory. It can be split into two periods, with the first period requiring an uninterrupted rest of at least 3 hours, followed by an uninterrupted rest of at least 9 hours, totaling a minimum of 12 hours.

  • Reduced Daily Rest Period: Drivers can choose a reduced daily rest period of a minimum of 9 hours, not exceeding 11 hours. However, this can only be done up to three times a week.

  • Weekly Rest Period: A weekly rest period of 45 hours is required, although it can be reduced to 24 hours once in a two-week period. This reduction is allowed only if at least one full rest period of 45 hours is taken. Additionally, there should not be more than six consecutive 24-hour periods between weekly rests.

HGV Working Time Directive Rules:

In addition to drivers' hours, the working time directive plays a crucial role:

  • Working Time (Including Driving): The average working time should not exceed 48 hours per week, typically calculated over a rolling 17-week period. However, collective or workforce agreements may extend this calculation period to 26 weeks.

  • Maximum Working Time in One Week: The maximum working time in a single week is 60 hours, provided the average working time of 48 hours per week is not exceeded.

  • Maximum Working Time for Night Work: If night work is performed, the maximum working time allowed is 10 hours. However, this limit can be extended through collective or workforce agreements.

Working Time Breaks:

Giving due importance to breaks during work hours is crucial, alongside drivers' hours requirements:

- Break after

6 Hours: It is important to take a minimum break of 15 minutes after working for more than 6 hours.

  • Breaks for Longer Shifts: If your shift extends between 6 and 9 hours, a break totaling at least 30 minutes is necessary. This can be split into two 15-minute breaks.

  • Extended Break for More than 9 Hours: If your shift exceeds 9 hours, a break period totaling 45 minutes is required.

Working Time Rest:

The rest requirements under the working time directive align with the EU drivers' hours rest rules.


Understanding and adhering to HGV drivers' hours and working time regulations are crucial for ensuring driver safety and well-being. By following the guidelines provided in this comprehensive guide, HGV drivers, transport managers, and HGV owner drivers can navigate these regulations with greater ease. Remember, even if you operate solely within the UK, you are still obligated to comply with these rules.

For further details and access to the complete documents on EU drivers' hours and the working time directive for HGV drivers, we recommend visiting the .Gov website. At the FTC, we are committed to equipping you with the necessary knowledge to ensure compliance and foster a safer road environment for all.