The Basics of HGV Driving Times for Novices

During a road trip, it is customary to plan for intermittent stops to rest and stretch. Similarly, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers adhere to specific guidelines regarding driving durations, mandatory breaks, and their durations to ensure they remain alert and perform optimally on the road. For novice drivers, these regulations might be perplexing. Hence, let’s delve into them further today.

Restrictions on Driving Time

The UK’s driving hour regulations are derived from guidelines established by the European Union to safeguard driver safety. Despite concerns related to Brexit, these regulations are incorporated into British law, ensuring their continuity. The primary regulations governing HGV driver hours encompass:

  • The maximum daily driving time is set at 9 hours, with the possibility of extending it to 10 hours twice a week but not beyond that limit.
  • HGV drivers are restricted to a maximum of 56 hours of driving per week.
  • The highest allowable limit within a fortnight is 90 hours.

These boundaries encompass factors such as work schedules, explaining why they carry over for both weekly and biweekly durations. By ensuring that none of these thresholds for driving time are surpassed, it is possible to effectively manage and prevent driver fatigue.

Legally Mandated Breaks

In addition to regulations concerning driving hours, mandatory breaks are also enforced. Specifically, once a driver has been behind the wheel for 4.5 hours, a minimum 45-minute break is legally obligatory. The accumulation of driving time to reach this 4.5-hour threshold can be flexible, allowing for continuous driving or intermittent shorter periods. However, upon reaching the specified 4.5 hours of driving, the driver must take the mandated 45-minute break. This break can be taken all at once or split into a 15-minute break followed by a brief driving interval and then a subsequent 30-minute break. Notably, breaks under 15 minutes are not legally recognized as breaks. Failure to comply with these break requirements may lead to potential legal consequences for both the driver and their fleet manager.

The primary reason for this phenomenon is that the human brain is not inherently capable of sustaining prolonged periods of concentration; consequently, it necessitates a substantial period of rest before resuming focus.

Rest Periods

Besides the mandatory break times, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) operators must also observe specified rest intervals. These intervals entail extended durations of non-driving activities, allowing drivers to fully unwind, recuperate, and recharge. Each driver is obligated to allocate 11 hours for daily rest. This period can either be used consecutively, such as overnight or be divided into two segments. Yet, in the case of division, the initial break must encompass an uninterrupted duration of 3 hours, followed by a continuous 9-hour rest – ultimately ensuring a minimum of 12-hour rest period.

An individual operating a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) has the option to decrease their daily rest time to a minimum of 9 consecutive hours, known as a reduced daily rest period, with a limitation of utilising this option three days per week. Any rest period between 9 to 11 hours automatically qualifies as part of the reduced daily rest period category.

Regulations also govern the cumulative rest duration per week to guarantee that drivers comply with the necessary rest limits. Drivers are obliged to accumulate 45 hours of rest per week. However, this requirement can be adjusted to 24 hours, given the condition that a complete rest period is taken at least once in a fortnight, with no more than 6 successive 24-hour intervals between weekly rests. These regulations are established to promote the well-being, health, and safety of drivers.

What is a Cat C licence? The category C license is the most commonly used HGV within the UK, as it is very versatile and can access large areas, and small towns where larger vehicles cannot. Drivers of this vehicle can earn a very generous wage with an average salary of up to £38k per year, for a 48-hour driving week.

Time Behind the Wheel Versus Productive Hours

Distinguishing between driving time and working time is crucial in the context of HGV operations. While driving time refers specifically to the duration spent actively driving the vehicle, working time encompasses all other activities related to the job, such as tasks involving transport and operations. This can include but isn’t limited to:

  • Driving
  • The process of loading and unloading
  • Surveillance of loading and unloading operations
  • Commercial Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training
  • Industry-specific job training
  • Ensuring the cleanliness and upkeep of your HGV
  • Performing routine inspections of vehicles and documenting findings regularly
  • Administrative tasks
  • Periods of time may be spent waiting for delivery route updates when they are initially unknown

In this scenario, it’s important to note that driving is classified as part of working hours, which can lead to some ambiguity since the regulations surrounding working hours are not uniform. The intricacies lie in the fact that:

  • It is essential to ensure that the total hours worked per week do not surpass an average of 48 hours, typically computed across a 17-week timeframe.
  • An upper limit of 60 hours per week is set for the maximum allowable working time.
  • Night work is considered when an individual’s maximum working time extends to 10 hours.

These regulations are pertinent to every driver operating a vehicle and trailer weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, a category that encompasses the majority of employed HGV drivers. We would recommend finding an HGV driving school that extensively covers these regulations in our HGV training program, ensuring that you are well informed and understand your responsibilities, as well as how these rules are crafted to promote your safety and that of other road users.

Moreover, being well-versed in these regulations equips you to identify instances where an employer may attempt to circumvent them, empowering you to take appropriate measures. Should you seek additional information or require advice, do not hesitate to reach out to our team today.