HGV Drivers Hours Explained

HGV driving hours made simple. Our simplified guide covers drivers hours rules and working time regulations.

Many haulage operators and lorry drivers find the regulations around HGV drivers’ hours and tachographs both complicated and confusing. It can sometimes be difficult to calculate how many hours you can drive as a UK HGV driver and what the rules on breaks and rest periods actually are. That is why we have put together this guide 'HGV Drivers Hours Explained', to try and make the existing rules on HGV driving hours as simple to understand as possible.

This guide on driver hours is suitable for HGV drivers, transport managers and HGV owner drivers and will hopefully give them a better understanding on how the EU drivers’ hours and HGV working time directive work together. Even if a HGV driver is only driving in the UK they are still bound by these rules and regulations.

If you want to have a look through the full documents on EU drivers’ hours and working time directive for HGV drivers you can view them on the .Gov website.
Here is a summary of the EU drivers’ hours rules and working time directive for HGV drivers.

EU Driver’s Hours Rules

Driving Hours

9 hours daily driving limit, this can be increased to 10 hours twice a week

Maximum of 56 hours weekly driving limit

Maximum of 90 hours fortnightly driving limit


Drivers Hours Breaks

45 minutes break after 4.5 hours driving

After a period of no more than 4.5 hours of driving you must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes unless you are taking a rest period instead. The driving period can be continuous, or made up of shorter periods totalling 4 hours 30 minutes.

A break can be split into two periods (these are known as split breaks) the first break period being a minimum of 15 minutes and the following break a minimum of 30 minutes. These breaks must be completed after 4.5 hours driving.

Breaks of less than 15 minutes would not qualify as breaks, however they wouldn’t be classed as driving time either. The EU driver’s rules and regulations state that only split breaks that show the secondary period being 30 minutes or over will be allowed.


Drivers Hours Rest periods

Regular daily rest period of 11 hours (This regular daily rest period may be taken in two periods, the first needing to be an uninterrupted period a minimum of 3 hours and the second an uninterrupted period of at least 9 hours, totalling a minimum of 12 hours.)

A HGV driver can reduce their daily rest period to a minimum of 9 hours uninterrupted, however they can only do this no more than three times a week. This is called a reduced daily rest period. Any rest period over 9 hours but under 11 hours will be classed as a reduced daily rest period.

Drivers’ hours weekly rest of 45 hours, which can be reduced to 24 hours, provided at least one full rest is taken in any fortnight. There should be no more than six consecutive 24 hour periods between weekly rests.

In summary if a HGV driver begins work at 7.00am on day 1 they must by 7.00am on day 2 have completed one of the following:
  • A regular daily rest period of 11 hours uninterrupted
  • A split regular daily rest period of 12 hours, taken in two separate periods, the first being a minimum of 3 hours and the second at least 9 hours
  • A reduced daily rest period, only if entitled, of a minimum of 9 hours uninterrupted (but not over 11 hours)

HGV Working Time Directive Rules


Working Time (Including Driving)

Working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours a week, normally calculated over a rolling 17 week period, but can be extended to a 26 week period under a collective or workforce agreement

Maximum working time of 60 hours in one week (provided average working time of 48 hours a week not exceeded, see above)

Maximum working time of 10 hours if night work performed. Again this can be extended under a collective or workforce agreement


Working Time Breaks

It is important to note that EU driver’s hours break requirements take precedence over these breaks when driving, so be sure you are taking the correct break periods when combing driving with other work.

Cannot work for more than 6 hours without a break. A break should last a minimum of 15 minutes
30 minute break if working between 6 and 9 hours in total.

After working for 6 hours a mobile worker must take a break of 15 minutes. However, if working between 6 and up to 9 hours in a shift a mobile worker must take a break totalling a minimum of 30 minutes, this can be made up of two breaks of 15 minutes.

45 minute break if working more than 9 hours in total. If a shift contains more than 9 hours of working time a break period totalling 45 minutes is required.

Working Time Rest

The working time directive rest requirements are the same as the EU drivers hours rest rules.

That is the summary of the HGV driving hours and working time directive which relates to the majority of lorry drivers in the UK. We are now going to look a little closer at the HGV driving and working hours and answer some common questions relating to how to calculate your driver’s hours and what breaks are required.


What drivers are covered by these rules and regulations?

Drivers of goods vehicles or combinations of vehicle and trailer of more than 3.5 tonnes, unless covered by a specific EU-wide exemption or a UK derogation. For more details on these exemptions please visit the .Gov website.
An informative video on lorry driver hours

Tachograph Symbols

HGV Driving Hours Tacho Symbols

HGV Drivers Hours and Working Time


How many hours can a HGV driver drive in one day?

The drivers’ hours rules puts a daily limit of 9 hours of driving between daily/weekly rest periods. The daily limit can however be increased to a maximum of 10 hours driving in a day but only twice in any one week.

How many hours can a HGV driver work in one day?

Although there is technically no daily limit to the amount of working time in one day (between rest periods), the rules for minimum daily rest of 9 hours (reduced daily rest period) in 24 hours basically means a lorry driver cannot have a working day of more than 15 hours for, at the most, three times between weekly rest periods. When a driver is on a full daily rest period of 11 hours the maximum working day is 13 hours.

The working day between daily/weekly rest periods is made up of time recorded for driving, other work, breaks and periods of availability. Although working time only includes driving or other work, the breaks and periods of availability need to be taken into consideration when you calculate the working day for a lorry driver to ensure the required daily rest has been taken.
HGV Drivers Hours Breaks

What is a period of availability?

A period of availability is in essence waiting time, which is not a break or a rest. To count as a period of availability a HGV driver must be on call to start work or resume driving on request. The driver should know the period and the duration of the period in advance, either before departure or before the start of the period in question.

HGV drivers working at night (also referred to as night time period)

Carrying out work during the night time period is classed as anything between midnight and 4am for goods vehicles.

Under the working time rules and regulations there is a 10 hour working time limit in any 24 hour period if there is any work carried out, which includes driving, during the night time period. The only exception to this is if there is a relevant workforce agreement in place to work longer.

If there was a relevant workforce agreement in place there is no limit in the working time rules and regulations. However, taking into account the minimum rest requirements, a driver cannot work for more than 15 hours in a one day period up to three times between weekly rest periods.

EU Driving Regulations Simplified

How many hours can a HGV driver drive in one week?

Over the period of a week a lorry driver can drive for a maximum total of 56 hours, for instance 9 hours on four days and 10 hours on two days. Although the maximum driving hours in a week is 56 you need to consider than over a consecutive two week period the total driving hours must not exceed 90 hours, so be sure to check both forwards and backwards when calculating drivers’ hours over a two week period.

A week is classified as the period of time between 00.00 on Monday and 24.00 on Sunday. However, for recording purposes this would basically be 00.01 Monday to 23.59 Sunday.

Drivers hours weekly rest

How many hours can a HGV driver work in one week?

A HGV driver must not exceed 60 hours working time, which includes driving and other work, in any single week. In addition they must not exceed an average of 48 hours working time over a specific reference period.

What is a reference period?

The number of hours worked each week by a HGV driver should be averaged out over a continuous 17 week period, this reference period can be extended to 26 weeks if there is a relevant agreement in place. The continuous 17 to 26 week period is used to calculate the average weekly working time and this is known as the reference period.

A reference period starts at 00:01 on Monday and runs for the necessary number of weeks (whether 17 or 26) until 00:00 on Sunday. If you are going with a 17 week reference period there will be one period of 18 weeks to cover the whole year. The 17 week reference periods start by default on the first Monday of April, August and December.

To summarise if you have a 17 week reference period a HGV driver must not exceed an average working week of 48 hours over this time. A driver, however can work up to 60 hours in a single week as long as it all averages out to 48 hours or less over the 17 week period.


How many 15 hour days can a HGV driver work in a week?

The answer to this commonly asked question is a HGV driver can have no less than 9 hours’ daily rest within a 24 hour period up to three times in a week. This means a HGV driver can work a maximum of three 15 hour days a week (as long as all other working time rules are met).

HGV Drivers Breaks

What breaks does a HGV driver need to take in one day?

It can get confusing when a driver needs to take a break as the requirements are different in driver’s hours to the working time rules. The type and number of breaks a HGV driver must take in a day all depends on whether they are driving or doing other work.

When driving

If they are driving then they must take a 45 minute break once they have driven for a total of 4.5 hours in any day. The breaks can be split with a 15 minute break followed by a another break of 30 minutes, and it must be in that order, a driver cannot take a 30 min break followed by a 15 minute break. Once a 45 minute break has been completed another 45 minute break will be required if a further 4.5 hours of driving is finished.

Other work

If a driver is doing other work, according to the working time directive, they would be required to take a break or breaks totalling 30 minutes if the work they are carrying out is between 6 hours and 9 hours. For any work that goes over 9 hours a total break of 45 minutes will be required.

All working time breaks can be split into periods of 15 minutes. A lorry driver must not work for more than 6 hours without a break.


Why driving hours and working hour’s breaks are different

Driving a heavy goods vehicle is a lot more difficult and carries a higher risk than other types of work, that is why the break requirements in the EU drivers’ hours rules are tighter than those in the working time rules and regulations.

How to know when a break is required when driving and doing other work

A HGV driver needs to keep in mind that when they are driving they need to follow EU driving hours rules and must have a 45 minute break after they have driven for 4.5 hours.

The confusion usually comes when a driver is doing other work as well, for instance if a driver does other work before driving this needs to be taking into consideration towards their working time. They must not exceed more than 6 hours working time without the required break.

Basically you need to take a break after you have driven for 4.5 hours or worked for 6 hours (including driving) whichever comes first.


The definition of a break

A break is defined as a period of time during a working day when a driver is not undertaking driving or any other work. A break is in essence time that is used exclusively for relaxation and to recuperate, breaks are to be uninterrupted.

Taking a break in a HGV

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 and recuperate.
HGV driving hours break guide
HGV driving hours break simplified

When to Take a Break

HGV drivers hours When to take a break

HGV Drivers Daily Rest


What rest periods does a HGV driver need to take in one day?

A driver must take a minimum daily rest period of 11 continuous hours within each 24 hour period. This is called a regular daily rest period, however the daily rest period can be reduced to just 9 hours on three occasions between weekly rest periods.

Alternatively, a driver can split a regular daily rest period into two separate periods. The first period must be a minimum of 3 hours of uninterrupted rest and the second period has to be at least 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, giving a total minimum rest period of 12 hours. There is no limit to the amount of split daily rest periods that can be taken.


Taking a daily rest period in a HGV

A driver can take their daily rest periods or reduced weekly rest period in their vehicle if that vehicle has suitable sleeping facilities and the vehicle is stationary during the rest period.  A driver is however, is not allowed to take their regular weekly rest period in their vehicle.

In summary a HGV driver who starts work at 5.00am on day one must have completed one of the following by 5.00am on day two:
  • A regular daily rest period of a minimum of 11 continuous hours
  • A split daily rest period of a minimum of 12 hours, the first period being at least 3 hours and the later rest period being a minimum of 9 hours.
  • A reduced daily rest period of at least 9 continuous hours but not exceeding 11 hours, if entitled to a reduced daily rest period.
HGV driver daily rest period

HGV Drivers Hours Weekly Rest


What weekly rest must a HGV driver take?

A driver has to start a weekly rest period no later than six consecutive 24 hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest period.
A regular drivers hours weekly rest is a period of at least 45 consecutive hours. However, this can be reduced to 24 hours every other week as long as the reduction is made up by an equal rest period before the end of the third week following the reduced week. The time must be made up in one block that cannot be split and must be attached to another rest period of a minimum of 9 hours.

In summary a HGV driver must have completed a minimum of two weekly rest periods, one of which being a full period, within two consecutive weeks.

A working week starts at the end of a weekly rest period and finishes after another weekly rest period begins. This means the working week isn’t always a fixed Monday to Sunday week, and as long as all rules and regulations are met the working week can start on any day.

HGV weekly rest periods
HGV reduced weekly rest

The definition of a rest period

A rest period is defined as an uninterrupted period of time when a driver can do anything they want except from doing any kind of work whatsoever.

HGV drivers need to ensure that they are resting properly as new fines have been anounced by the Department for Transport which gives the DVSA more powers in handing out fines for previous driving hours offences. Read more here.

HGV Working Time


What is classed as working time as a HGV driver?

In general terms any time spent carrying out activities in connection with the transport operation is classed as working time, this would include:
  • Driving
  • Loading and unloading
  • Driver CPC training or other industry or job specific training
  • Cleaning and maintenance of vehicle
  • Monitoring of loading and unloading (to ensure goods are safely loaded and unloaded)
  • Daily vehicle defect check and report
  • Time during which the HGV driver cannot freely dispose of their time and is required to be in the vehicle ready to take up normal work
  • Administrative work linked to legal or regulatory obligations directly linked to the transport operations which are under way
  • Waiting periods where the foreseeable duration is not known in advance by the HGV driver, either before departure or just before the start of the period in question.

What is not included in working time?

Travelling between home and their normal place of work is not counted as working time, nor are rest periods or breaks.

How to record driving and working time for a HGV driver

Driving time is recorded on the tachograph. Working time records must be kept by the employer and tachograph records can also be used for this. If tachographs are not used to record working time then another type of accurate record must be kept by the driver’s employer.

Your driving time is recorded on the tachograph. Working time records must be kept by your employer and tachograph records may also be used for this. If tachographs are not used as working time records then another type of accurate record must be kept by your employer.

We hope you have found this HGV driver hours’ simplified guide to drivers’ rules and HGV driver working time regulations helpful. If you want to review the full regulations you will find them here.

Here are some handy resources which you may find useful when it comes to lorry driving hours.


HGV Drivers Hours App

There are a couple of apps out there that help keep a track on driving hours and working time for HGV drivers.

The first is called TruckTimer which is available on Apple, Android or BlackBerry devices. The app is specifically designed for lorry drivers and helps monitor driving hours and alerts users to potential breaches in the rules. The second drivers’ hour app is produced by the Freight Transport Association and enables drivers to keep track of their driving hours and shows them watch hours they can do without causing any infringements to the HGV driving hour’s rules. The app is available on Apple and Android devices.


HGV Drivers’ Hours Calculator

If you do not have access to sophisticated tachographs then you may want to use an online HGV drivers hour calculate to help you work out rest periods and start times, as well as helping you keep an accurate record of both driving hours and working hours. There are a couple of websites that can help you work out your drivers hours, they are not the most beautiful of websites but they can help do the job. The first one is My Driving Hours and the second is HGV City, you will have to register to be able to work out your timesheet and driving hours.


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