Why are drivers’ hours controlled?

Commercial drivers must keep to prescribed limits on driving time to:

  • protect themselves from becoming overtired by driving long hours on the road

  • protect members of the public as tiredness can lead to road accidents.

Recording drivers’ hours provides accurate information in relation to driving time and other work activities.

Drivers of goods vehicles that are under 3.5 tonnes or exempt from the EU rules must comply with the GB domestic drivers’ hours rules.

Why do you need to manage your drivers’ hours?

Failure to control and monitor drivers’ hours and work records can result in disciplinary action being taken against the operator licence.

The driver is also accountable. The Traffic Commissioner can take action against his or her driving licence.

What are the rules governing drivers’ hours?

  • Drivers of most goods vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes, including drawn trailers, must comply with the EU Drivers’ Hours rules (EC Regulation 561/2006) unless exempt.

  • The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 also impose limits on weekly working time for these drivers, crew and other travelling staff.

  • Drivers of goods vehicles that are under 3.5 tonnes or otherwise exempt from the EU hours must comply with the British Domestic Hours rules unless exempt.

  • The Working Time Regulations 1998 provide additional constraints on working patterns for drivers under domestic rules and those who only occasionally drive under the EU rules.

What do the EU rules require?

The rules set maximum limits on:

And minimum requirements for:

What do managers need to do?

  1. Make sure you understand the rules yourself.

  2. Ensure all drivers know the rules applying to them. You can do this by a short questionnaire and by organising a training session qualifying as Driver CPC periodic training.

  3. Keep it simple. The complete set of rules is quite complicated so only concentrate on the parts that are relevant. If drivers don’t use trains and ferries, then you needn’t bother much about the specific split daily rest rules that apply to them. For most UK national operations, it may be enough to focus on the basic rules on:

  4. When there is the possibility that drivers will need to take weekly rest away from base, do make sure that they know the rules on where it can be taken and the need to produce evidence that it was taken at an authorised place.

  5. Issue all drivers with a written aide-memoire of the basic requirements and confirm in writing to all drivers that failure to adhere to the drivers’ hours rules is a disciplinary matter.

  6. Download and examine (or engage a contractor to examine) a representative sample of tachograph records each week. Keep a register of all records examined and produce a detailed infringement report where deviations from the rules are found. Apply the disciplinary process as appropriate and retain infringement reports and evidence of disciplinary action.

  7. In the examination of the records, look for infringements from the rules on:

    • daily driving time limits

    • maximum continuous driving time

    • minimum breaks within driving time

    • daily rest requirements

    • weekly rest requirements

    • fortnightly driving time.

  8. Develop and document a disciplinary process for when infringements occur, including:

    • verbal warning

    • written warning

    • final written warning

    • dismissal or reassignment to non-driving duties.

    Providing for remedial training at each stage.

  9. Make sure that all those involved in routeing and scheduling work are aware of the limitations on drivers and that they plan journeys so that:

    • a suitable stopping place can be reached within the maximum driving time before a break is required

    • the job can be accomplished in time for the driver to return to base or reach a suitable overnight stopping place within an 11-hour working or 9-hour driving day

    • individual driver’s work rosters allow them to comply with the rules on fortnightly driving and weekly rest.

  10. Always build-in sufficient time to the schedule to allow for any events (such as traffic and waiting time) that can reasonably be foreseen. Do not include the available concessions on daily driving and rest in the scheduling: they are your safety net.


It is often difficult to interpret the drivers’ hours regulations. Download this form to see some commonly raised issues over interpretation of the requirements.

Last reviewed 13 July 2021