EP Training

Thu, October 26, 2023

Exploring HGV Tacho Rules and Break Regulations

Exploring HGV Tacho Rules and Break Regulations

 The drivers' hours rules and tachograph recording equipment regulations, which originated from EU regulations 3820/85 and 3821/85, were designed to achieve several important objectives, including:

Ensuring drivers' social needs are met: These regulations aimed to address the social needs of drivers by implementing specific rest and break periods, helping to maintain their health and well-being.

Balancing work/home life for drivers: The rules aimed to strike a balance between work and home life for drivers, ensuring that they had adequate daily and weekly rest periods to spend time with their families and to recuperate.

Creating a level playing field in the transport sector: The regulations aimed to establish a consistent set of rules across the transport sector, ensuring that all operators adhered to the same standards. This prevented one operator from gaining an unfair economic advantage over another by disregarding the rules.

Improving road safety: By enforcing breaks and rest periods to combat driver fatigue, these regulations sought to enhance road safety. Fatigue is a significant factor in road accidents, and the rules aimed to reduce this risk.

Overall, these regulations were put in place to protect the well-being of drivers, promote fair competition within the transport industry, and enhance safety on the roads.


Understanding Tacho Rules



Explanation of tacho and their role in monitoring driving hours


The Vehicle Unit (VU), also known as a tachograph, serves as a crucial tool for recording various vehicle-related activities and ensuring compliance with drivers' hours regulations. Some of the functions and requirements of the VU include:

1. Recording vehicle movements and overspeeds: The VU records data related to the vehicle's movements, speed, and any instances of overspeeding. This data helps in monitoring and managing the vehicle's performance.

2. GPS coordinates: In more advanced units, GPS coordinates are recorded at regular intervals, typically every 3 hours. This feature provides location data, which can be valuable for route planning, tracking, and compliance verification.

3. Driver card activities: The VU allows the driver to record their activities, including driving, rest periods, and other work-related tasks, onto their driver card. This information is critical for tracking the driver's compliance with rest and work time regulations.

4. Data download and analysis: To ensure compliance and identify any infringements or events, it is essential to download data from the VU and driver cards regularly. The VU should be downloaded at least every 90 days, while driver cards should be downloaded every 28 days. The downloaded data is then analysed to check for any violations of drivers' hours rules.

By recording and analysing this data, both operators and authorities can monitor drivers' activities, ensure compliance with regulations, and enhance road safety by addressing potential infringements and safety-critical events.


The legal framework and regulations governing tacho for HGVs


After the UK's exit from the EU, it continued to adopt EU legislation, including regulations related to tachographs and drivers' hours. This choice to retain EU legislation, rather than reverting to the AETR (European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport) under the Geneva Convention, means that most tachograph infringements are still addressed within the framework of EU regulations.

However, there are certain situations in which drivers may face criminal charges under English law, specifically the Fraud Act 2006. These charges can be considered if a driver is found to have created a false record to conceal a tachograph infringement or has used a cheat device with fraudulent intent. The Fraud Act 2006 is a piece of legislation that deals with various forms of fraud and deceptive practices, and it may apply to cases where individuals intentionally engage in dishonest activities related to tachograph records.

It's important for drivers and operators to be aware of both EU regulations and relevant national laws, such as the Fraud Act 2006, to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues related to tachograph use and drivers' hours.


The significance of compliance for road safety and legal requirements


Drivers and operators need to comply with Driver’s hours rules and other rules of the road to ensure the safety of all road users. Compliance isn’t easy, it is hard work, but poor compliance puts the operator’s licence at risk, no O licence means no company and the loss of your job, it’s as simple as that.


Break and Rest Regulations



Detailed exploration of the rules regarding breaks and rest periods for HGV drivers


In the context of drivers' hours and rest regulations, it's important to distinguish between breaks and rest. A break is a period of time where the driver steps away from any work-related activities, including paperwork and communication. Rest, on the other hand, is an uninterrupted period where the driver is free to use their time as they wish, typically taken at the end of the working day and at the end of the working week.

Here are some basic rules for breaks and rest periods:

1. A driver can drive for up to 4 ½ hours before taking a break of at least 45 minutes. This break can be split into a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break.

2. Daily driving is limited to 9 hours, but twice in a fixed week, it can be increased to a maximum of 10 hours, provided the second 45-minute break is taken.

3. Regular daily rest is set at 11 hours but can be reduced to 9 hours up to three times in a working week. A working week consists of 6 periods of 24 hours.

4. For a regular weekly rest, drivers should have a minimum of 45 hours. However, this can be reduced on alternative weekly rests to a minimum of 24 hours. Any reduction in weekly rest needs to be compensated.

These regulations help ensure that drivers have adequate breaks and rest periods to prevent driver fatigue and maintain safety on the road.


Discussion of the 6-hour rule and its implications


The Mobile Working Time Directive focuses on regulating the maximum and average working time for drivers, as well as the need for breaks during the working day. This directive considers two categories of working time: "Driving" and "Other Work." It does not include periods of availability (POA) or break/rest time.

Here are the key points related to breaks under the Mobile Working Time Directive:

After 6 hours of working time, a driver must take a break. This break should last at least 30 minutes, but it can be split into two 15-minute breaks. However, the first 15-minute break must be taken within the first 6 hours of working time, and the second 15-minute break can be taken later in the shift. It's important to note that the second break cannot be taken at the end of the shift.

If a driver works for more than 9 hours of working time, an additional break of 15 minutes is required. Therefore, long shifts should include multiple breaks to ensure the driver's well-being.

Any continuous block of 6 hours of working time should be interrupted by a break. This means that drivers should avoid taking their breaks too early in their shift to comply with these regulations.

These regulations aim to promote the health and safety of drivers by ensuring they have regular breaks to rest and recuperate during their working day.


Explanation of daily rest requirements and the 6 and 9-hour rule


Under the working time regulations, there are no specific daily duty limits or daily rest requirements. This can sometimes lead to confusion, especially for drivers who are familiar with the more specific duty and rest limits outlined in the Drivers' Hours rules.

Here's an important distinction to remember:

1. Drivers' Hours Rules: These rules define the maximum daily and weekly driving hours, as well as daily and weekly rest periods. For example, a driver following a regular 11-hour daily rest period can have a daily duty of up to 13 hours. If the driver opts for a reduced daily rest of 9 hours, the daily duty can extend to 15 hours.

2. Working Time Regulations: While they don't impose specific daily duty or rest limits, they do require that after 6 hours of working time, a break is taken. In the case of extended working hours, additional breaks are necessary to ensure the driver's well-being.

The distinction between these two sets of regulations is important to avoid confusion and to ensure compliance with the specific rules governing drivers' hours and working time. Drivers should be aware of and follow the appropriate regulations based on their situation.


Recent Changes and Updates


The evolving tachograph legislation and associated changes have introduced several important considerations for drivers and operators. These changes aim to improve accountability, compliance, and road safety. Here's a summary of these developments:



Smart1 Tachograph Units (June 2019)



Smart1 tachograph units introduced advanced features, including enhanced driver interfaces.

They incorporated Digital Short Range Communications (DSRC), with the potential for remote VU file downloads by organizations like the DVSA.



Smart2 Tachograph Units (August 2023)



Smart2 tachograph units became mandatory for new vehicles.

Existing vehicles would need to retrofit Smart2 units for international trips over the next few years.



Mandatory Tachograph Units (From July 1, 2026)



Starting from July 1, 2026, vehicles weighing over 2.5 tons used for international trips must be equipped with a tachograph unit.



EU1054 Regulations (2020)



EU1054 regulations introduced the requirement for drivers to record all activities, both work-related and off-duty.

Drivers must create manual entries or use the reverse side of tacho printouts for recording activities away from their vehicles, second jobs (both within and outside the industry), weekly and daily rest periods.

For national journeys, drivers need to keep records for 7 days; for international journeys, records must be maintained for 28 days.



Additional Changes



International drivers must not stay out of their country of registration for more than 4 weeks.

International drivers can take two reduced weekly rests consecutively, as long as the time is compensated before the next regular weekly rest.

Unforeseen event rules now allow drivers to exceed their driving by 1 hour or take a 30-minute break followed by 2 hours of driving to return to their base for the start of a weekly rest.

Traveling to a place of work that is not a driver's regular place of work is considered duty time.

Staying informed about these changes and complying with the evolving legislation is crucial for drivers and operators to maintain road safety, protect their operator's license, and ensure legal adherence. Reviewing resources like the DVSA Guide to Drivers' Hours (GV262) Section 4.3 Common Rules can provide valuable guidance on these matters.


The importance of staying up-to-date with changing regulations


Indeed, the rules and regulations surrounding driver's hours and tachographs are subject to continuous evolution and updates. Staying informed and compliant is essential for all professional drivers and operators. By remaining up-to-date with the latest developments and ensuring full compliance, drivers can enhance road safety, maintain their operator's license, and contribute to a more efficient and secure transport industry. Regularly reviewing official resources and guidance from relevant authorities is a key practice to keep abreast of these changes and adhere to the law.  

Implications of non-compliance with updated rules


Non-compliance with driver's hours and                graph regulations can carry significant consequences:

1. Failure to maintain proper records may result in a £200 Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice (GFPN) per day.

2. Neglecting to present records during a roadside inspection can lead to a £200 GFPN.

Serious infringements may entail more severe actions, including:

  1. Court summons for the driver.
  2. Driver misconduct hearing.
  3. Operator visits from the DVSA.
  4. Requests for a DBAQ (desk-based assessment).
  5. Potential involvement in a Public Inquiry.

Adhering to the rules and maintaining accurate records is essential to avoid these repercussions.


Tacho Exemptions and Specific Cases



Discussion of tachograph exemptions, including the 100km exemption


The "Tools of the Trade" exemption and other similar EU exemptions and national derogations can indeed be a source of confusion, as they can vary depending on specific circumstances and local regulations. These exemptions may allow certain vehicles or drivers to be exempt from the standard driver's hours rules, but it's crucial to understand the specific criteria and limitations for each exemption.

Drivers and operators should thoroughly review and confirm whether these exemptions apply to their operations and, if necessary, seek guidance from relevant authorities or industry associations. Comprehending the exact conditions and limitations of exemptions is essential to ensure that drivers and operators remain in compliance with the law and avoid potential issues related to tachographs and driver's hours rules.


Clarification on when tacho are required and when they are not


You're absolutely right. Commercial drivers are generally subject to the driver's hours regulations, and it's their responsibility to determine whether they qualify for any exemptions based on the specific circumstances of their journeys. Since each situation can be unique and exemptions have specific criteria, it's crucial for drivers and operators to exercise caution and, if unsure, consult with experts or legal professionals who specialize in transport and road law. This proactive approach can help avoid compliance issues and potential legal consequences.


Special considerations for vans


Indeed, the regulations surrounding the use of tachographs can vary depending on the weight and specific circumstances of the vehicle and its use. Understanding when tachographs are required is vital for both drivers and operators to ensure compliance with the law. It's also important to consider additional factors like trailers and operator's licenses, which can further affect the obligations and exemptions. Staying informed about these rules and seeking professional guidance when needed is essential to avoid legal complications and maintain safe and legal transport operations.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What happens if you exceed your permitted driving time?


If you exceed your driving time, the Police and DVSA may prosecute you by issuing a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice (GFPN) or a summons. In serious cases, a driver may be called before a driver misconduct hearing. Here are some examples of graduated GFPN fines:

  • 4 ½ hours of driving to 5 ½ hours without a break = £100 (usually a 30-minute tolerance is applied).
  • 5 ½ hours of driving to 6 ½ hours without a break = £200.
  • Over 6 ½ hours of driving with no break = £300.


Can you take two reduced weekly rests in a row?


No, you can't, unless you are on an international journey, as I have described above.


How many tachograph breaks are allowed in a day?


If you extend to a 10-hour drive, then breaks should total at least 90 minutes.


What are the rules for split rest periods?


The first rest period needs to be at least 3 hours long and should be taken during your shift. This is then followed by a 9-hour rest at the end of your shift. All rest periods need to be completed within 24 hours of the start of duty.


Are there penalties for non-compliance with tachograph regulations?


Infringements could result in a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice (GFPN) ranging from £50 to £300 per offence, with a maximum of £1500 on any one stop. Alternatively, a driver could be summoned to court. Common tachograph offences are level 4 case disposals with a maximum £2500 fine. A driver could also be summoned to a driver misconduct hearing where their HGV licence could be suspended or revoked.




It is the responsibility of both drivers and operators to stay informed about rule changes. Non-compliance can lead to costly consequences, so investing in quality driver training and regularly attending Drivers' Hours Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) courses is a wise decision.


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