EU Drivers’ Hours

There are regulations in place to protect drivers when it comes to their working and driving time as well as their wellbeing. In April 2007 new regulations were put in place; the EU Drivers’ Hours Regulation – EC561/2006 ensures employers in the EU are keeping check on driving time.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to your drivers to ensure they are being safe whilst on the road and ensuring they take the necessary rest breaks is a large part of this. It is important that all drivers are made aware of the regulations and that they are enforced.

Driving Time

The regulations specify that driving time must not exceed a certain accumulated amount.

  • 9 hours each day, although twice a week this can be extended to 10 hours.
  • In one week, it cannot exceed 56 hours.
  • In two consecutive weeks it cannot exceed 90 hours.

Total working time which includes driving time as well as other work, must not exceed 60 hours in one week or average over 48 hours in one ‘reference period; of 17-26 weeks.

Breaks from Driving

Breaks must be taking during driving time; after no more than 4 and a half hours of continuous driving, a break of 45 minutes must be taken. This can be split into one 15-minute break prior to reaching 4.5 hours of continuous breaking and 30 minutes after the limit is reached but cannot be split into three 15-minute breaks.

Rest

During one 24-hour period a daily rest period must be undertaken; the minimum duration of this rest must be at least 11 hours.

  • This can be reduced the 9 hours on a maximum of three occasions between two weekly rest periods.
  • The amount of daily rest can be split into two periods but the first of the two must be at least 3 hours and the second at least 9. This would then mean the total rest period, if the driver choses to split would become 12 hours.

Weekly Rest

There can be a maximum of six 24-hour periods since your last weekly rest period. After this time a new weekly rest period must take place. Each weekly rest period must be a minimum of 45 unbroken hours. A reduction can be made to the 45 hours to a minimum of 24 hours once in any two consecutive weeks.

  • Any reduction must be compensated in full, by the end of the third week in question.
  • This compensation must be attached to a rest period of no less than 9 hours in duration.
  • If a rest period begins in one week and falls into another, it can be attached to either week.

Both daily and weekly rest periods must be uninterrupted, which means you must able to freely utilise your own time. If the period does get interrupted, then it may have to be repeated. Exceptions can be made for rest taken during ferry crossings, and in emergency situations. As an employer you will have to refer directly to the regulations for full details of interrupted rest and what constitutes an emergency in this situation.

In multi-manning situations, drivers must take a daily rest of at least 9 hours and this must be within 30 hours of the end of the end of a daily or weekly rest period and during this period the vehicle must be stationary.

Obligations for Drivers

As a fleet manager it is essential that you communicate to drivers that they have an obligation in line with these regulations to take the required break periods.

  • Drivers must comply with rest and break requirements.
  • Drivers must record all ‘other work’ defined under the RT(WT)R.
  • They must use the “packing case” mode to record availability and “cross hammers” mode to record other work.
  • Drivers must keep records of all driving periods for the current day and any generated by you in the last 28 calendar days. These must be produced in the event of a roadside check.
  • Drivers are issued with a digital driver card. If this is lost, they must comply with manual entry requirements.

For fleet owners and managers, whilst you may not be able to be completely aware of your drivers rest periods it is important that you enforce them where possible and continually check drivers are taking the mandatory breaks in line with regulations.

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