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Driver Hours, Driver Records and Tachographs

The law and regulations surrounding driving hours, rests and records are contained in both EU Regulations and the Transport Act 1968.

When Does it Apply

First it must be ascertained whether the vehicle in question is subject to part 6 of the Transport Act. The Act applies to:

  • passenger vehicles – public service vehicles and motor vehicles constructed or adapted to carry more than 12 passengers
  • goods vehicles – heavy locomotives, light locomotives, tractors
  • motor vehicles constructed or adapted to carry goods other than passengers.

Type of Journey

If the vehicle is defined in the above, then particular journey must be established. There are four classes of journeys or work;

  • International journeys or work
  • National journeys or work
  • Domestic journeys or work
  • Mixed driving – journeys or work falling partly in one of the above classes and partly in another

National or international journeys are ones that are longer than 50km and/or cross borders, and are subject to the EC regulations.

Domestic journeys are ones that do not exceed 50km. Domestic journeys are exempt from the EU regulations/recording and are only subject to the UK laws for recording.

Rest Periods and Working Hours / Driver Hours

Any national / international journey is subject to Articles 5-15 of EC Regulation 561/2006 and section 96 Road Traffic Act 1968. It also applies to a driver from the EU in the UK.

  1. The main EU rules on driving hours are that you must not drive more than:
  • 9 hours per day – which can be extended to 10 hours twice a week.
  • 56 Hours per week.
  • 90 Hours in any consecutive 2 weeks.
  1. Rest periods. You must rest:
  • For 45 minutes after 4 and a half hours of driving.
  • Daily – at least 11 hours. You can reduce to 9 hours 3 times per week between any 2 weekly rest period. You can take in 1 go or in two goes of at least 3 and then 9 hours.
  • Weekly – an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week – you can reduce this to 24 hours every other week.
  • Your weekly rest after 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken

The rest periods may be taken in a vehicle, as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities and the vehicle is stationary.

Domestic Journeys

Journeys not covered by the EU regulations will instead be covered by the GB domestic regulations which state:

  • You must not drive for more than 10 hours in a day
  • on a public road
  • off-road if not during duty time (off road includes civil engineering, forestry, quarrying, building work and agriculture).
  • You must not be on duty for more than 11 hours in any working day. If you work as a driver for a company, duty time is any working time. If you’re self-employed, duty time is only time you spend driving the vehicle or doing other work related to the vehicle or its load.

Passenger-Carrying vehicles

The Same rules apply to passenger carrying vehicles designed to carry more than 12 passengers.


Some exemptions are listed in Article 12 as for the purposes of safety:

  • Events which are likely to cause danger to life or health of one or more individuals or animals, or a serious interruption in the maintenance of water, gas, electricity, drainage, telecommunications, postal services, or a serious interruption in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports.
  • Events which are likely to cause such serious damage to property as to necessitate the taking of immediate action to prevent the occurrence of such damage.

The driver must indicate the nature and reasons for the breach manually on the record sheet of the recording equipment or on a printout from the recording equipment or in his duty roster.

Other exemptions are listed as vehicles that do not come under the EU rules and include:

  • vehicles that cannot go faster than 40kph
  • emergency aid vehicles
  • breakdown vehicles – specialised vehicles working within a 100km of their base
  • vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, and new or rebuilt vehicles which have not yet been put into service
  • non-commercial vehicles under 7.5 tonnes – eg a person moving house
  • vehicles manufactured more than 25 years ago
  • vehicles used by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery businesses for carrying goods within 100km of where the business is based
  • vehicles carrying live animals between a farm and a market, or from a market to a slaughterhouse where the distance is less than 100km
  • vehicles that are used to carry animal waste or carcasses that are not intended for human consumption
  • educational vehicles – eg mobile libraries
  • vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible weight of 7.5 tonnes or less that are used for carrying work equipment for the driver where the distance is less than 100km
  • vehicles driven only on islands whose area does not exceed 2,300 square kilometres
  • vehicles with a maximum weight of 7.5 tonnes which use natural or liquefied gas or electricity as fuel and carry goods within 50km from their base
  • driving instruction or exams
  • circus vehicles – specialised vehicles transporting circus and funfair equipment
  • milk collection – vehicles used for collecting milk from farms or returning milk containers or milk products for animal feed to farms
  • any vehicle that is propelled by steam

Driver Records and Tachographs

A vehicle falling into the EU regulations must have a tachograph recording.

Provisions relating to installation and use of tachograph recording equipment are contained in sections 97 Transport Act 1968 and Regulation 165/2014 of the EU regulations.

The tachograph is a cable fed combination of a speedometer, an odometer and a 24 hour Clock.

Most new vehicles will have smart tachographs. They will record speed, location, start and end points automatically.

If a vehicle is being used by 2 drivers, the tachograph must be capable of recording simultaneously but distinctly and on two separate sheets.

Basically the same tachographs rules and regulations apply to passenger vehicles as to good vehicles. Section 95 of the Act applies the provisions to all public service vehicles and other motor vehicles constructed and adapted to carry more than 12 passengers.


It is a defence if:

  • The vehicle is proceeding to a place where the recording equipment is to be fitted.
  • In the case of defective recording equipment, it had not become reasonably practicable for the equipment to be repaired by an approved fitter or workshop and the requirements were being complied with.
  • In the case of broken seals, breaking or removal could not have been avoided and it had not become reasonably practicable for the seal to be replaced by an approved fitter or workshop, and in all other respects the equipment was being used.
  • In the case where a driver card has not been used with the recording equipment, the defendant proves to the courts that the driver card was damaged common malfunctioning or stolen.

The burden is on the defendant to prove the defence on the balance of probabilities.

Offences and Penalties

It is an offence to use, cause or permit to be used a vehicle to which the tachograph provisions apply without recording equipment.

The penalty for breach of contravention driving hours or failing to take steps is a fine of level 4 – maximum £2,500. It is triable in a Magistrates Court only. There is no power to disqualify or order penalty points.

Offences contrary to section 97 (tachograph installation) and section 99 (failing to produce records) are punishable by unlimited fine. It is triable in a Magistrates Court only. There is no power to disqualify or order penalty points.

Offences created by the Passenger and Goods Vehicles Regulations 2006 relating to the use of more than one driver card or the wrong driver card are punishable with an unlimited fine. It is triable in a Magistrates Court only. There is no power to disqualify or order penalty points.

Article 33.3 of the 2014 regulations imposes liability on transport companies for their drivers’ failure to abide by the regulations (but there is an option to make operators liability conditional if the drivers have failed to comply with one or more of their duties).

An employer may be liable generally for using or causing or permitting to be used a vehicle to which section 97 of the 1968 Act applies whether tachograph is not installed, used or repaired as specified.

In addition the traffic commissioner is empowered to revoke, suspend or curtail an operators’ licence if the licence holder has been convicted in the preceding five years of an offence under the 1968 Act in relation to a goods vehicle. Such offences have to be declared by applicants for licences.

Forgery and falsification offences are triable either way (in either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court) in accordance with sections 18-23 Magistrates Court Act 1980. On conviction in the Magistrates’ Court the Court may impose an unlimited fine, and in the Crown Court up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.