EU Driving Time & Rest Periods

The European Union (EU) drivers’ hours rules apply to drivers of most large goods vehicles (LGVs) where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, exceeds 3.5 tonnes. Drivers of Large Goods Vehicle’s are usually required to have  a tachograph in the cab.

EU drivers’ hours rules set the limits for drivers during the working day, and daily and weekly rest periods.

These drivers are also covered by working time regulations

EU Driving Rules - Daily Breaks

When must a driver take a break under EU driving rules?

A LGV driver must take a break after every 4 hours 30 minutes of driving under EU rules.  This must consist of a break or breaks totalling a minimum of 45 minutes

If the driver is carrying out OTHER WORK such as loading rather than driving a vehicle. And six hours has elasped before the 4 hours 30 minutes driving time he must take a break under the working time directive


  • Cannot work for more than 6 hours without a break. A break should be at least 15 minutes long
  • 30 minute break if working between 6 and 9 hours in total
  • 45 minute break if working more than 9 hours in total

What is a split break under EU driving rules?

A LGV driver can split their rest break of 45 minutes in to two sections.  This must consist of one 15 minute break and one 30 minute break which must be taken in that order

EU Driving Rules - Daily Rest Periods

How long is a daily reduced rest period under EU driving rules?

A driver can reduce their daily rest period to a minimum of  9 hours rest 3 times between any 2 weekly rest periods

How long is a daily regular rest period under EU driving rules?

A daily minimum rest of at least 11 hours is required  – A driver can reduce this to 9 hours rest 3 times between any 2 weekly rest periods

How many times a week can you reduce your daily rest?

  • A driver may reduce their daily rest period to a minimum of 9 continuous hours, this can only be done no more than three times between any two weekly rest periods; No compensation for the reduction is required.
  • A daily rest that is less than 11 hours but at least 9 hours long is called a reduced daily rest period.

EU Driving Rules - Weekly Rest Periods

How long is a regular weekly rest period?

A driver must take unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week – This can be reduced to 24 hours every other week

How long is a reduced weekly rest period?

A driver must take a minimum of  24 hours unbroken rest for a reduced weekly rest period.

In any two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks a driver must take at least:

  • two regular weekly rests; or
  • one regular weekly rest and one reduced weekly rest.

EU Driving Rules - Maximum Driving Hours

What is the maximum daily driving time allowed under EU driving rules?

The maximum allowable amount of driving time under EU rules is 9 hours in a day – this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week

How many times a week can daily driving hours be extended under EU driving rules?

Driving hours can be extended to 10 hours twice a week

How many hours can a worker drive for in a week under EU rules?

The main EU rules on driving hours are that you must not drive more than:
  • 56 hours in a week.
  • 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks.

EU Driving Rules - Other information

Which vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are except from EU driving rules?

Some types of vehicle are exempt from EU rules. This means they come under GB domestic rules in the UK.

The main types of exempt vehicle are:

  • vehicles that can’t go faster than 40 kilometres per hour, including vehicles that are restricted by a set speed limiter
  • emergency aid vehicles – vehicles used in the non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid for use in emergencies or rescue operations
  • breakdown vehicles – specialised breakdown 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 – for example a person moving house or goods carried by a non-profit making group or registered charity
  • vehicles manufactured more than 25 years ago
  • vehicles with between 10 to 17 seats used exclusively for non-commercial passengers, eg minibuses used by voluntary and community groups
  • vehicles used by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery businesses for carrying goods within 100km of where the business is based
  • vehicles that are used to carry live animals between a farm and a market, or from a market to a slaughterhouse where the distance is less than 50km
  • vehicles that are used to carry animal waste or carcasses that are not intended for human consumption
  • educational vehicles, eg play buses and 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
  • 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 – vehicles used for driving instruction and examination. Includes instruction for renewal of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
  • 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

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