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  • HGV Driver Hours. What you need to know about tachograph rules in 2020

    Image credit: Patrick Seidler

    Updated: 21/05/2020

    Within the EU, rules on limiting commercial driver hours are thankfully in place and enforced by the DVSA to help ensure our roads are safer. Unfortunately, even with these rules in place it is proven that a large proportion of vehicle accidents are down to driver fatigue, where such drivers are on the roads for long hours and their level of alertness deteriorates.

    As an employer it is therefore important to understand what you need to be doing to comply with the law and to help keep your drivers safe.

    The tachograph rules we’ve explained in this article only apply in the UK and EU countries.


    • Fines for historic driver’s hours offences
    • Tachograph rules made easy
    • Tachograph rules on maximum driving hours
    • Tachograph rules on breaks
    • Tachograph rules on daily rest
    • Tachograph rules on weekly rest
    • Tachograph rules on night work
    • When do I need a tachograph?
    • How long do you have to keep tachograph records?
    • Tachographs can help to improve driver behaviour and reduce insurance costs
    • How will Brexit impact upon tacho rules?

    Fines for historic driver’s hours offences

    If driver hours rules are not complied with then fixed penalty fines can be enforced or for more serious infringements it can even result in prosecution against the driver or operator.

    In an attempt to tighten up driver hour compliance, from March 2018 the DVSA started being able to issue on the spot fines for historic driver’s hours offences that were committed in the previous 28 days (as opposed to only issuing fines on the day of non-compliance). Driver vehicles can now even be immobilised if payments are not made, impacting on the running of your business.

    There are some exemptions, this includes drivers who do not use public roads, such as driving in connection with road improvements or road maintenance, quarrying, construction work or civil engineering work. The rules also do not apply if you are making a personal journey and driving a vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes (though you need an appropriate licence to drive a vehicle that size).
    You are allowed to break the regulations if, for example:
    • There is danger to people or animals
    • Serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity and drainage), of telecommunications or postal services.
    • Serious damage to property

    Tachograph rules made easy

    Vehicles in excess of 3.5 tonnes in terms of gross train weight are required by European Law to obey EU Drivers Hours and Tachograph Law if the vehicle is used in connection with “hire and reward”(business use).

    Government, under EU rules, strictly controls the hours drivers can be on duty and/or at the wheel, and these rules need to be adhered to or you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

    Tachograph rules on maximum driving hours

    • A maximum of 9 hours per day
    • No more than 90 hours over a two-week period
    The maximum number of driving hours is set to 9 hours per day, although this can be exceeded to 10 hours per day up to twice a week. Weekly maximum driver hours must be no more than 56 hours with a maximum of no more than 90 hours over any two-week period.

    There isn’t an “opt-out” option for individuals wishing to work longer than the average 48-hour week. However, breaks and periods of availability do not count as working time.

    The Temporary Relaxation of GB Drivers’ hours rules (COVID-19)

    Due to COVID-19 there was a temporary relaxation of GB drivers’ hours rules from the 23rd March to 17th April.

    These rules affected those working in manufacturing or backhaul collections, distribution, and transport hub deliveries to stores. These rules did not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers.

    For the drivers and work in question, the EU drivers’ hours rules were temporarily relaxed as follows:

    a) Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours.

    b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours.

    c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively.

    d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six-24 hour periods, or after seven 24 hours period; although two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight.

    e) The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.

    Drivers’ weren’t allowed to use relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time, this was to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.

    Although this has now been withdrawn, you can find the information regarding the relaxed rules here.

    Tachograph rules on breaks

    • A driver must take 45-minute break every 4.5 hours
    • A break is exclusively for relaxation and recuperation, no work or driving should be done during this time

    A driver must take at least 45 minutes of breaks every 4.5 hours unless they take a rest period. So, they can take either a single 45-minute break, or a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break.
    A break is when the driver is not driving or doing any other work for a period of time. A break should be used exclusively for relaxation and to recuperated, uninterrupted.
    At the moment drivers can take their breaks in their vehicles as long as they are not doing any other work and they are using the time to relax.

    Tachograph rules on daily rest

    The standard daily rest requirement is 11 hours within a 24-hour period. This means that rest must begin no later than 13 hours after driving duty has begun. This period may alternatively be split into two periods. One of at least three hours followed by one of at least nine within the 24-hour period.

    You can reduce your daily rest can be reduced to just 9 hours up to a maximum of three times per week.

    Tachograph rules on weekly rest

    Overall the minimum weekly rest requirement is 45 hours after no more than six consecutive 24-hour duties.

    Over any two-week period, the driver must have at least one 45-hour regular weekly rest and one 24-hour reduced weekly rest period. If you have made any reductions in weekly rest, then they must be compensated for by adding them to another rest block and must be given before the end of the third week.

    Tachograph rules on night work

    Night work is classified as that between the hours of midnight and 4am for HGV drivers, or between 1am and 5am for PSV drivers.

    During night driving periods you cannot exceed ten hours of work within a 24-hour period. This will not include breaks, so as a result you can still legally complete up to a 15-hour shift with the relevant breaks included. Also, if a collective workforce agreement is in place then these night work rules do not apply.

    There are of course some exemptions to these rules in which case your requirements would come under GB domestic rules.

    When do I need a tachograph?

    If you are driving within the EU (which includes the UK) and the maximum permissible weight of your vehicle combination is more than 3.5 tonnes then you must be using a tachograph to record driver hours and rest periods.

    You must be using EU approved analogue or digital tachographs to record periods of driving, work and rest, the distance you have travelled and vehicle speed. Digital tachographs have overtaken the usage of analogue tachographs and are actually required for any vehicle first registered from 1 May 2006, although analogue versions are still in use.

    Drivers using an analogue tachograph must:

    • check the time is set to the official time of the country in which the vehicle is registered
    • make sure the tachograph doesn't need an inspection or recalibration by checking the seal is intact and the plaque is in date
    • complete all centrefield details on every chart. However, the ‘total km’ field is not legally required to be completed
    • use a chart that's compatible with the tachograph
    • tell the operator if the tachograph is faulty or if they are unsure how to use it properly
    • ensure the mode switch is set correctly throughout each shift
    • make written manual entries when working away from the vehicle and unable to use the recording equipment, or if the rules have been broken because of an emergency
    • record the registration number and odometer reading of any new vehicle used on the shift, together with the time of the vehicle changeover
    • be able to produce the relevant records at the roadside
    • return charts, which they are not required to keep, to the O licence holder as soon as possible, but in any case within 42 days

    Drivers using a digital tachograph must:

    • check that the tachograph doesn't need a recalibration
    • ensure there are sufficient supplies of print roll on board the vehicle after inserting the driver card, plus complete any data entry manual records in UTC and confirm the start location as instructed by the equipment
    • ensure the mode switch is set correctly throughout their shift
    • tell the operator if the tachograph is faulty or if they're unsure how to use it properly
    • make a printout and provide written manual entries if it's impossible for them to use their card, the rules have been broken due to an emergency, or an enforcement officer requests it (they may also be asked to sign that it's a true record)
    • be able to produce the relevant records at the roadside
    • allow the operator to download data from their card

    How long do you have to keep tachograph records?

    European Driver’s Hours and tachograph regulations require fleet operator’s tachograph records to be kept for a year, however Working Time Directive rules require the records to be kept for up to two years.

    Under the UK law, drivers of goods vehicles are also required to keep the last 28 days of tachograph records on their person.

    Failure to install, keep or hand over tachograph records can result in a fine of £5,000.

    Tachographs can help to improve driver behaviour and reduce insurance costs

    By analysing the data from your tachographs within a fleet management system, it is possible to manage and improve driver behaviour and steer your fleet towards a more economical approach. Not only will this help to provide significant fuel savings, but will also reduce environmental impact, haulage insurance costs and improve your public image.

    It should be noted though that drivers of commercial vehicles fitted with digital tachographs are warned to download their data as soon as possible. Data should be downloaded every 24 hours to ensure nothing is lost, information such as the speed of travel can therefore be used and is crucial in defending any subsequent claim from a possible accident.

    How will Brexit impact upon tacho rules?

    Tachograph rules and driver hours are currently governed by EU Regulations. Upon leaving the EU such regulations would then no longer apply. However, as a condition of continuing to trade with the EU we will remain a signatory of the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) which incorporates the same rules.

    In addition to this drivers’ hours and tachograph rules are incorporated in the UK through the Transport Act 1968.With these facts in mind it is highly unlikely that these rules will change, particularly when they are designed to enhance safety.

    The UK is set to have an agreement in place with the EU by the end of the 2020, we will continue to update this section as and when new information is announced.

    Bluedrop services also provide the following business insurance options:

    Fleet Insurance

    Professional Indemnity Insurance

    Liability Insurance

    Landlord Insurance

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's Haulage Insurance?
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