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  • I went over my driving hours - what are the consequences?

    If you're thinking, "I went over my driving hours; am I in trouble?" don’t panic. We're here to help drivers understand how to best comply with the law and analyse the unique challenges that exist under domestic and EU drivers' hours rules.

    I went over my driving hours - what are the consequences?

    Understanding driving hour regulations

    Driver’s hours when stuck in traffic

    No matter how long or short the journey may be, traffic is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating aspects of driving. A traffic jam can also pose another problem, one that can have legal implications if it is not handled properly: the risk of exceeding the driving hours permitted by law.

    If a traffic jam threatens to infringe on your drivers' hours rules, it is your responsibility as a driver to assess the situation and determine the cause and likely duration of the queue. If there is slow-moving traffic ahead of you, it may mean that you have no choice but to drive for longer than anticipated. If your engine has been off for a long period of time and you are free to dispose of your time, it is perfectly fine for you to record a break. Otherwise, you should record "other work" or a period of availability.

    The final and most critical thing to note is that wherever the relevant drivers' hours rules are violated, the driver must submit a manual entry describing the situation. Drivers and operators should be aware that a violation of drivers' hours without a manual entry could lead to legal action.

    Tachograph infringements

    A tachograph is a device that records driving times, speeds and distances. Drivers and employers use them to stay compliant with driving hours rules and regulations. A tachograph can be either analogue or digital. All commercial vehicles registered on or after 1st May 2006, must be equipped with digital tachographs.

    Those who violate tachograph regulations, such as driving and resting time regulations, face heavy fines which are calculated based on the seriousness of the violation.

    • Up to £2,500 can be fined for not complying with driving times, breaks or daily rest periods.
    • Up to £2,500 can be fined if records are not made or kept in accordance with British domestic law.
    • Fines of up to £5,000 can be imposed if a tachograph isn't installed.
    • Fines of up to £5,000 may be issued for failure to use a tachograph.
    • A maximum fine of £5,000 can be imposed for failing to provide an enforcement officer with tachograph records and relevant recording equipment.

    Fines to deter the driver from going over the hours

    The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can fine drivers a maximum of £300 if they don't play by the rules while driving. A maximum fine of £1,500 can be imposed for five offences committed within the past 28 days, compared with £300 previously.

    Aside from fining drivers for recent offences, the DVSA is also penalising drivers for not getting adequate rest. Each fortnight, commercial vehicle drivers must take a 45-hour rest break. On November 1st, 2017, the DVSA introduced fines of up to £300 for drivers who spend their full weekly rest break in their vehicles, such as lay-bys and residential areas. This is due to complaints from local communities about lorry drivers causing noise, litter and anti-social behaviour.

    The consequences of driving tired

    Accidents on the road can have devastating consequences. Around 40% of all sleep-related road accidents involve commercial vehicles.¹ This is likely due to the fact that commercial drivers tend to drive for longer hours, increasing the risk of fatigue and drowsiness, which can lead to inattention and poor decision-making.

    The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) reports that driving while tired can lead to:

    • 1 in 5 of all incidents on the road
    • Up to 25% of serious and fatal collisions

    Such crashes serve as a harsh reminder of the importance of proper rest for tired lorry drivers to ensure the safety of other road users.

    The physical and mental cost of breaking the rules

    If you're on the road, it can feel like there's no time to stop and rest. But if you don't take breaks, it can cost you more than just your safety.

    The physical and mental costs of breaking driving hours rules are high. If you're tired and distracted, it's not just your life at risk; it's everyone else's too. And if you don't get enough rest, it can have serious consequences for both your health and your performance at work.

    To summarise

    Overworking is a problem that's all too common across industries, but commercial driving is notorious for it. And for good reason: the industry expects drivers to work long hours with little to no wiggle room. While this may pay off financially in the short term, it has serious long-term consequences. And we hope that this guide has helped you better understand the consequences of going over a driver's hours and how to avoid doing so.

    If you would like more advice on driver hours or fleet insurance for your business contact our expert team.

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