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Ing. Ladislav Luka, Fuel expert

A Guide to Driving and Rest Times for EU Truck Drivers

Every industry has some level of safety regulations in place to protect workers, and the trucking industry is certainly no exception. Since driver fatigue is one of the biggest contributors to traffic accidents involving commercial trucks, regulations have been passed in many countries to address this issue within the heavy goods vehicle industry.

A Guide to Driving and Rest Times for EU Truck Drivers

One way in which safety has been addressed is through mandated working time directive rest periods. These rest periods dictate the amount of hours a driver is allowed to operate a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) until they are required to take a break, how long the break must be, and how many consecutive daily driving periods are allowed before a weekly rest is required.

HGV trucking companies are required to keep records of driver hours to ensure that they adhere to these regulations, as there are often heavy fines and penalties levied for non-compliance. Smart trucking companies are therefore incentivized to look for ways to improve and streamline the administrative process.

This article will discuss HGV driver rest periods, specifically within EU countries. It will also explain why it is important to observe these mandatory rest periods, the penalties for non-compliance, and how trucking companies can simplify the process of tracking drivers’ hours. Read on to learn more.

What are Driving Times and Rest Periods?

Driving times and rest periods are established to manage the work hours and rest breaks of truck drivers. These periods promote road safety by preventing driver fatigue and helping ensure overall driver well-being. Long hours of driving without adequate rest can lead to decreased concentration and slower reaction times, which increases the risk of accidents. Many governing bodies have attempted to strike a balance between helping goods move efficiently and ensuring the safety of HGV operators and other drivers when drafting regulations.

Enforcement is now typically handled through the use of tachographs. These devices record driving times, rest periods, and other relevant data regularly. HGVs are often required to have tachographs installed onboard to help monitor compliance and keep accurate records. 

Driving Times and Rest Periods in EU Countries

In order to ensure safer road conditions by making sure that truck drivers were not fatigued behind the wheel, EU Regulation No 561/2006 set out a series of guidelines for the amount of hours each day a driver could operate a vehicle weighing over 3.5 tons.

The regulation states that the maximum daily driving time for truckers is limited to 9 hours, with a possibility of extending this to 10 hours twice a week. This period is known as driving or steering time. Drivers must take at least a 45 minute break after driving for 4.5 consecutive hours, unless they take a rest period (see below). This break can be split up, with the first break for at least 15 minutes and the second for at least 30 minutes.

Drivers must be allowed a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours. This period can be split into 2 parts, with the first part lasting at least 3 hours and the second at least 9 hours (for a total of 12 hours). This daily rest period must be completed within 24 hours from the start of the working day. The period can be reduced to 9 hours for a maximum of 3 times between any two weekly rest periods. 

Additionally, drivers must not exceed a total of 56 hours of driving time in a week, or 90 hours in a two week period. Drivers must be granted an uninterrupted rest period of 45 hours per week, which can be reduced to 24 hours every second week. This rest period must not be taken in the vehicle, and employers are required to provide suitable accommodations with a bed and restroom.

While EU regulations establish common standards, some member states may allow flexibilities. These are usually designed to address specific regional or industry-related issues. However, the flexibilities should never intentionally compromise driver safety or well-being.

Why Do You Need To Follow The Regulations?

It is very important that trucking companies follow the guidelines listed above. Aside from legal and monetary penalties (which will be discussed later in this article), driver safety and well-being is at stake. Continuous driving without proper rest can impair concentration, reaction times, and decision-making abilities. This can greatly increase the risk of accidents.

Employee retention and industry reputation are also major reasons why fleet owners have a vested interest in following the regulation. Drivers are perhaps the most valuable asset for any successful trucking company, and the companies that prioritize driver well-being are more likely to attract and retain skilled and experienced drivers. Similarly, companies that place an emphasis on safety build a positive reputation with customers, regulators, and the public.

Insurance companies also take into account a company’s adherence to regulations when determining premiums. Companies who demonstrate a commitment to safety by complying with driving and rest period regulations may enjoy lower insurance costs. Furthermore, in the event of a road accident, a company’s record of adherence can help establish their commitment to safety and mitigate liability concerns. 

In case all of the reasons mentioned above are not sufficient, let us now look at the legal and financial penalties for non-compliance. 

Penalties Can Be Harsh and Costly

Penalties can vary depending on the severity of the violation and the specific regulations breached. One of the most common consequences is fines or monetary penalties. These can be very substantial, with repeat violations resulting in heavier fines.

Serious violations may lead to suspension or even revocation of a driver’s license or a company’s operating license. In some cases, authorities may seize the HGVs involved until any issues are resolved and compliance is ensured. For egregious violations or repeated non-compliance, criminal charges may be filed against a driver or company. 

These penalties can severely disrupt the operations of any trucking company. Fortunately, Eurowag has solutions to help maintain accurate records and ensure your company is compliant with all applicable regulations. 

Eurowag Helps Ensure Compliance And More

Telematics is a powerful fleet management software that helps streamline the record keeping process for driving and rest period compliance. An electronic logging device (ELD) from Eurowag can record all breaks, rest periods, and consecutive driving periods

Because the information is logged automatically, Telematics can streamline the administrative aspect of compliance. This saves time and money for drivers, dispatchers, owners and managers alike. The data captured can even be used to help lower fuel consumption, track vehicle maintenance needs, and improve driver behavior and productivity

Contact us to learn more about our telematics fleet management software and how we can help HGV companies with many of their needs.