What are the laws of England and Wales which relate specifically to individuals who drive for a living?

Driving for a living in the UK

Currently many individual’s drive for a living in the UK whether they are driving lorries, vans, busses or coaches.

As a consequence there is national legislation which is put in place to ensure the safety of these individuals and the other individuals using the roads.

What is the legislation which defines the rules in the UK?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 is the legislative instrument which deals specifically with how many hours individual employees can work in the UK, with it also detailing the certain rules which apply to employees who drive for a living.

What must drivers do in order to comply with the UK rules concerning driving for employment?

Under the UK drivers’ hours rules an individual driver is allowed to drive for a maximum of ten hours in any 24 hour period.

The total amount of time that an employee is permitted to be on duty during a 24 hour period is eleven hours.

What is meant by driving?

When concerned with the UK regulations an individual will be deemed to be driving a vehicle whereby they are at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement with the engine running.

Does this apply regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or stationary?

This applied regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or whether it is stationary.

What is meant by being on duty?

Being on duty depends upon the individual’s role and the type of company they are employed by.

If an individual is a driver employed in a company or the director of a limited company then on duty is defined as any working time which could include talking on the telephone or another general duty of employment.

If an individual is a self employed driver then the term on duty will mean driving the vehicle or undertaking any work in connection with the vehicle or its load. This therefore means that general employment duties such as answering the phone would not be included as the individual being on duty whereas loading up a van would be.

Will there always be this restriction on duty time?

For individual drivers who drive for less than four hours a day there will be no restriction placed on them in relation to duty time.

What do the regulations say in relation to drivers of different kinds of vehicles?

The regulations make a distinction between drivers of the following kinds of vehicles:

  • Drivers of goods vehicles

  • Drivers of passenger vehicles

Drivers of goods vehicles

In relation to drivers of goods vehicles they must do the following to comply with the regulations:

  • Ensure that the maximum amount of driving they do in any working day is 10 hours

  • Ensure that the maximum amount of duty time in any working day is 11 hours

Drivers of passenger vehicles

In relation to drivers of passenger vehicles they must do the following to comply with the regulations:

  • Ensure that they take a break of at least 30 minutes when they have been driving for a total of 5.5 hours

  • If a driver wishes an alternative for this they can decide to take a break of at least 45 minutes within a period of driving of 8.5. hours

  • The reason for this is to ensure that a driver drives for no longer than a period of 7 hours and 45 minutes.

  • Ensure that in any working day the maximum amount of driving done is 10 hours

  • Ensure that they do not work more than 16 hours between the times of starting and finishing work

  • Ensure that they take a continuous rest of ten hours between two consecutive working days – this can be reduced to 8.5 hours up to three times a week

  • Ensure that they have at least one period of at least 24 hours off in any two consecutive weeks

Are all drivers required to take records of the amount of hours they drive?

An individual who drives a passenger carrying vehicle under the permitted amount of hours they will not be required to make a record of the amount of hours they have driven.

An individual who drives a goods vehicle with a maximum gross weight or more than 3.5 tonnes must keep records for any day which they do the following:

  • Drive for more than four hours

  • Drive outside a 50km radius of the vehicle’s operating centre

How can these records be taken?

The records can be taken either by completed a record sheet or by the use of an approved and sealed tachograph.

Record sheets

If the individual driver records their hours using a record sheet this must be checked and signed by their operator (if they work with an operator) on a weekly basis.

Tachograph

A tachograph is an electronic piece of equipment which records the number of hours driven by a particular vehicle. There is various legislation which must be complied with both when the tachograph is fitted and also for its use.

Are there any penalties for drivers to be found to have breached the regulations?

If drivers and found to be driving in breach of the regulations then they could face a fine or even imprisonment.

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

The rules on driving are allowed to be broken in the following circumstances:

  • Where there is danger to the life of people or animals

  • Where there is serious interruption of essential public services such as gas, water, electricity and drainage

  • Where there is serious interruption of postal or telecommunication services

  • Where there is serious interruption in the use of road, railways, ports or airports

  • Where there is serious damage to property

The Regulations will also not apply to those individuals driving on private roads.