HOW many hours do you spend behind the wheel of your van? Are you aware that the amount of driving that you do is governed by law on van driving hours?
No? Well, would you be worried about a fine of up to £300? Or a possible custodial sentence if you cause an accident when you’re over hours?
Yes, have I got your attention? Good, as there are two sets of rules which apply in the UK. The first are the ‘EU Rules’ which covers most drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. The others are the domestic rules, which apply to drivers of good vehicles excluded from the EU rules.
As a guide, the domestic rules cover most van driving, although you should be aware which rules you’re following,
The Domestic Rules on van driving hours
These apply to goods and vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes and there are just two main limits.
- 10 hours of daily driving – this limit applies from the moment you start driving, includes time off-road and time behind the wheel with the engine running and controlling the vehicle. This could be when the vehicle is stationary, as well as moving.
- 11 hours of daily duty – this is basically the period of 24 hours from the beginning of your shift. Drivers are excluded from the daily duty limit on any working day if they don’t drive.
So to sum up, with the Domestic Rules, you can spend 11 hours of the day working, but no more than 10 of those can be driving.
There must be some exceptions to these rules I hear you ask, and you’d be right. In fact, if you drive a vehicle to which these rules apply, but spend just four hours at the most behind the wheel per week, then you’re not subject to the ‘daily duty’ limit on any day of the week.
However, confusingly, if you exceed more than four hours in one day, the limit is applied to the whole week!
If you’re any of the following, you only have to keep to the 10-hour daily driving rule:
Doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife, vet, work in any inspection service, cleaner, work in maintenance, work in repair, work in installation or fitting, commercial travellers, work for the AA or RAC, work in cinema or radio broadcasting, have to drive off-road for agricultural, forestry, quarrying or civil engineering purposes.
The Domestic Rules don’t apply to drivers in the armed forces, police and the fire brigade, drivers who stay off of public roads and any private driving that’s not for employment.
These limits can also be exceeded when immediate action is needed to deal with life or death emergencies, serious interruptions to public services such as water and gas, serious interruptions to the use of roads, railways, sea ports and more. Finally, events that are likely to do serious damage to property.
EU Rules on van driving hours
These apply to vehicles and vehicle combinations that exceed 3.5 tonnes maximum. Therefore, these rules will only apply to van drivers towing trailers.
- 9 hours of daily driving – or the driving time between rest periods (of which there should be two), no more than 9 hours. However, this maybe extended to 10 hours twice a week, without the needing to compensate for the extra time.
- 56 hours maximum of weekly driving – a week being the fixed period between 00:00 Monday to 24:00 the following Sunday.
- 90 hours of fortnightly driving – or any rolling two-week period, starting at midnight Sunday/Monday.
- A 45-minute break after every 4.5 hours of driving – this break must be taken after continuous or accumulated driving, unless you start another daily or weekly rest. You don’t just have to take the 45-minute rest in one go, instead you can take the break in two periods, the first being at least 15 minutes long and the second 30 minutes.
- 11 hours minimum daily rest – must be taken every 24 hours at the end of the last daily or weekly rest period. Can be reduced by two hours to nine hours, but this can only be done three times between weekly rests.
- 45 hours minimum weekly rest – must be taken before the end of six 24-hour periods, which starts at the end of the last weekly rest. Like the minimum daily rest, it can be reduced, but this time up to 21 hours – to 24 hours. These reductions must be made en bloc by the third week – following making a week of reductions. Finally, over any rolling two week period, you must have at least two-weekly rests that must total at least 45 hours long.
They total 28, but there are no exceptions for drivers who drive occasionally or for short periods.
These regulations may be broken only to reach a suitable stopping place in an emergency.