Drivers’ hours lowdown – the importance of compliance

Car keyProfessional bus, coach and LGV drivers are governed by a myriad of complex rules and regulations, including the requirement to hold a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence license (sometimes know as Driver CPC or DCPC) and regulations surrounding drivers’ hours. This short guide will look at the current regulations and hopefully help to clear up any confusion surrounding compliance.

Why have formalised drivers’ hours?

Formalised drivers’ hours are standardised throughout Europe, making it easier for drivers and companies who work in different countries to comply with one set of regulations. It also helps drivers, companies and the general public to understand what is safe, rather than having individual companies running their own systems, which would be difficult to understand and potentially cause chaos.

Legally enforced drivers’ hours also protects the wellbeing of drivers. By ensuring drivers take regular breaks this will help to reduce fatigue and as a result reduce the related collisions this could cause. Crashes involving vehicles which can weigh up to 44 tonnes, tend to be the crashes which lead to the worst injuries and the greatest number of deaths.

Rules for employers

As an employer, you must monitor your mobile workers’ working time (this includes drivers, members of the vehicle crew and anyone else who is part of the travelling staff.) You must do what you lorrycan to make sure limits aren’t exceeded, record working times and keep these records for at least 2 years.

The regulations are enforced by The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Breaking the rules may result in either an improvement notice setting out the changes you need to make by a certain date, or a prohibition notice requiring you to stop a dangerous activity, or to start complying with the regulations.

EU Rules

The main EU rules on driving hours’ state all driving must be recorded on a tachograph. You must not drive more than nine hours in a day (this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week), 56 hours in a week or 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks. The rules also state that you must take the following breaks and rests:

  • at least 11 hours rest every day – you can reduce this to nine hours rest three times between any two weekly rest periods;
  • an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week – you can reduce this to 24 hours every other week;
  • your weekly rest after six consecutive 24-hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken (coach drivers on an international trip can take their weekly rest after 12 consecutive 24-hour periods, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken);
  • a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than four and-a-half hours driving.

Certain vehicles are exempt from these EU rules and in which case must comply with The GB Domestic drivers’ hours rules if in doubt check the government website for a full list of exemption criteria!

Working Time Regulations

While the EU regulations concentrate on driving time, they do not control non-driving workers, which are covered instead by the Working Time Regulations. The two key limits for road transport workers are:

  • Maximum average working week – 48 hours
  • Maximum length of work before a break – 6 hours


Tachographs record information about driving time, speed and distance and are used to make sure drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours. Information from digital tachographs is saved on smart cards so it can be checked later. You must use a tachograph if the vehicle you’re driving comes under EU rules. There are two types of tachograph – analogue and digital. However, all commercial vehicles first registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with digital tachographs.

Enforcement Penalties

Failing to keep proper records is an offence, and drivers can be fined a maximum of £5000 or face 2 years imprisonment. Operators who cause or permit this to happen face fines up to £5000 and possible loss of ‘O’ licence (don’t forget, it’s the operators responsibility to make sure tachographs are installed and maintained correctly.) Drivers also face penalties for exceeding maximum daily driving time:

Maximum daily driving time exceeded by Penalty
Up to an hour £100
1 to 2 hours £200
2 or more hours £300

Driver CPC Compliance

Don’t forget, professional LGV and PCV drivers are also legally required to hold a Driver CPC licence. As an approved JAUPT centre, RoSPA is able to provide driver development training for bus, coach and large goods drivers which includes key defensive driving techniques and much more. Alternatively, you could use our consortium service to provide in-house driver CPC training, meaning CPC licence costs for your organisation will be even lower. For more information about how RoSPA can help you, please see our range of Driver CPC services, as well as our Drivers’ Hours CPC Workshop.

For more vital health and safety guides, facts and advice, sign up to SafetyMatters, RoSPA’s free fortnightly newsletter and receive our collection of free original e-books!


Related reading:

Is RoSPA the missing piece of your CPC drivers hours puzzle?

What is Driver CPC and do you comply?

Driver Fatigue Policy Statements

Driving for Work: Safer Journey Planner

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: