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  • The Importance of the Weekly Rest Period for HGVs

    Whether you're a qualified HGV driver or a transport operator, I'm sure you're already aware that it's mandatory to follow the weekly rest period for HGVs. But with so many regulatory requirements to follow, these rules can often lead to confusion.

    The Importance of the Weekly Rest Period for HGVs

    To ensure that drivers and operators are aware of the crucial importance of observing HGV driver hours and weekly rest periods, this guide provides an easy-to-follow overview of the UK requirements. This resource will help you adhere to regulations, ensuring you and other road users remain safe.

    HGV’s weekly rest period explained

    By law, vehicles with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or more are classified as heavy goods vehicles, and their drivers are required to adhere to strict regulations regarding their driving time each week.

    These regulations are governed by EU law and are designed to prevent fatigue and loss of concentration, two things that can be fatal when an HGV is involved. Despite the UK's departure from the EU, you also still have to follow the EU's tachograph and driver's hours rules.

    The maximum driving hours allowed are:

    • 9 hours a day – extended to 10 hours twice a week.
    • 56 hours a week.
    • A total of 90 hours over two consecutive weeks. When a driver reaches the 56-hour maximum in one week, the following week cannot exceed 34 hours.

    It is mandatory by law to track and record all driving hours on a tachograph so that driving speeds and distances can be calculated accurately. A record of this information should always be carried by drivers.

    Drivers’ hours rules

    Within 4.5 hours of driving, it is mandatory for drivers to take a 45-minute break without interruption. Alternatively, a 45-minute break can be replaced with a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break. This will allow sufficient rest, so when you return behind the wheel again, you'll be refreshed and ready to hit the road.

    Rules on rest require you to take the following:

    • You need at least 11 hours of rest every day – however, you can reduce this to 9 hours of rest 3 times every two weeks.
    • A minimum of 45 hours of uninterrupted rest per week – this can be reduced to 24 hours every other week.
    • Following six consecutive 24-hour work periods, your weekly rest begins at the end of the last weekly rest period you took.

    Please note that rests in vehicle cabs are only permitted if the vehicle is stationary and there are suitable sleeping facilities for the driver. A hotel, hostel, or Airbnb may need to be arranged if a vehicle does not have adequate sleeping facilities.

    What is the 6-hour rule in the working time directive (WTD)?

    For HGV drivers to stay within the law, they must take a 15-minute break after 4.5 hours of driving or 6 hours of working. Work time includes driving time, so a driver must take a minimum 15-minute break after 6 hours of carrying out work-related activities, such as driving, loading, maintaining or cleaning their heavy goods vehicle.

    What are the penalties for non-compliance?

    Before March 2018, HGV drivers found in violation of driving hour regulations could receive up to £300 in instant fines. However, if a driver is found to be in violation of these rules, they can now face fines of up to £1,500.

    The authorities can now look at 28 days' worth of tachograph information, and if a driver is found to have more than five infringements within that period, they may be taken to court or even see their vehicle seized.

    Benefits of complying with the rules

    The health of your drivers, the safety of your roads, and the efficiency of your fleet are all at stake when you don't comply with the weekly rest period for HGVs. The rules were designed to keep drivers healthy and alert behind the wheel, and they're there for a reason.

    Driver health

    The rules on HGV driving hours are designed to ensure that drivers are taking adequate rest and are not overworking themselves. This is to reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents and ensure that drivers are taking proper care of their health.

    Road safety

    All drivers have a duty of care to other road users. This means that they must ensure that they do not cause injury or damage to anyone else on the road. This includes obeying vehicle speed limits, adhering to traffic lights and signs and avoiding dangerous manoeuvres. By understanding the importance of the weekly rest period for HGVs, you will be reducing your risk of being involved in an accident – which could lead to serious consequences for yourself, or others involved.

    Increased productivity and efficiency

    When it comes to driving, insufficient rest is an issue that most people don't think about until it's too late. Keeping your drivers refreshed and avoiding fatigue will ensure that your business runs smoothly at all times, allowing everyone involved to be as productive as possible.

    A final word from us

    Being a road haulage driver isn't easy. It's a demanding profession, and there's no denying that. In fact, over 40% of drivers admit to feeling anxious or distressed behind the wheel.1 This is why the weekly rest period for HGV drivers is so important. Take rests whenever possible, and do not overwork yourself to the point of exhaustion.

    For more details on how to stay compliant with HGV drivers’ rules, follow government guidelines regularly. Stay in the know and drive safely!

    If you would like more advice on the weekly rest period or fleet insurance, contact our expert advisors.

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