When driving lorries for a living, as well as following the Highway Code that applies to all drivers, there are other rules which need to be adhered to. These rules were set out by the Government to ensure your safety, as well as those of the people around you. Some of the rules may depend on the specific type of vehicle you are driving and the country where you are driving in. You can check out the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency for information that is intended for commercial customers, private motorists and corporations.
These rules focus around rest breaks and driving hours, with the emphasis on the safety and welfare of the drivers themselves and other road users. However, many employers insist their drivers drive the maximum number of hours permissible to increase productivity.
Before you start driving, you should do a quick walk around check with your vehicle. Failure to do so could lead you to a prohibition, penalty points on your licence or a fixed penalty.

● Brake lines
● Electrical connections
● Mirrors and glass
● Security of load
● Number plate
● Markers
● Reflectors
● Tyres and wheel fixing
● Spray suppression
● Security of body/wings
● Brakes
● Front view
● Steering
● Horn
● Excessive engine exhaust smoke
● Windscreen wipers and washers
● Warning lamp
● Lights and indicators
● Fuel/oil leaks
● Coupling security
● Battery security/condition
As a professional driver, you should always carry your records (your record for today and the previous 28 days) and digital driver card (if it has been issued to you). Failure to do so could result with you paying a penalty of £300.
According to a study carried out by Unite Union, 20% of HGV drivers claim they have fallen asleep at the wheel due to long days and disturbed sleep. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
The number of hours an HGV driver can legally drive is limited to nine hours per day, 56 hours a week or 90 hours in two consecutive weeks. This can be extended to 10 hours a day twice a week. Night drivers are limited to 10-hour shifts. The EU laws also specify the number of rest breaks an HGV driver should take.
For instance, there should be at least 11 hours rest or nine hours three times a week if you work daily. Every week should also include a 45 hours unbroken rest period. On a daily basis, drivers should have a 45-minute break every 4.5 hours. Breaks of less than 15 minutes do not count although it is possible to split a 45-minute break into a 15 minute and 30 minute period.
As a professional driver, you are obliged to follow the driving limits and HGV driver basics to stay legal. Today, let us take a closer look at the number of hours you are allowed to drive, do other and rest.
Driving limits and breaks from driving
● You can split your driving sessions into 2 (with 4.5 hours driving in each session) and add a break (45 minutes break) in between.
Split breaks
● You can split your driving sessions into 3 (with 2 hours, another 2 hours and 4.5 hours of driving – not necessarily in this specific order) and add 2 breaks (15 minutes and 30 minutes break) in between.
If you are working a maximum of 2 days in 1 week
● A maximum number of 10 hours is allocated for driving hours in 1 week. You can split your driving sessions into 3 (with 4.5 hours, another 4.5 hours and 45 minutes of driving – not necessarily in this specific order) and add 2 breaks of 45 minutes in between.
If you are working 1 week fixed
● You will work for 6 days straight. You can split your driving sessions into 4 sessions of 9 hours and 2 sessions of 10 hours, not necessarily in this specific order. This means that you will be working a total of 56 hours in 1 week, and you should not exceed that.
If you are working for 2 weeks
Taking into consideration the driving limits and split breaks mentioned earlier, you can split your driving hours into the following:
● Week 1 – 56 hours + 34 hours = 90 hours
● Week 2 – 34 hours + 56 hours = 90 hours
Your daily rest period
● Taking into consideration the driving limits and split breaks mentioned earlier, you can split your driving hours (depending on your preference) and add 45 minutes of break in between. You will be left with a regular daily rest of 11 hours.
● If you will be working with a reduced daily rest, just split your driving hours and add 45 minutes of break in between, then you will be left with a reduced daily rest of 9 hours.
Weekly rest
● Regular weekly rest – 45 hours (unbroken rest period)
● Reduced weekly rest – 24 hours (unbroken rest period)
If you prefer the 2 week working limit, you can split your weekly rest into the following:
● Week 1 – 45 hours
● Week 2 – 24 hours
● Week 3 – 45 hours
If you fail to comply with these limits, a fixed penalty of up to £300 might be given to you, as well as a £1500 graduated deposit. In some cases, you might be summoned to come to court.
There are variations to these times and more complex rules for different classes of a vehicle so it is advisable to be 100% sure of the legal requirements before embarking on the job. This is where we would come in.
If you would like to learn how to drive different categories of trucks (Category C – Rigid Lorry, Category C+E – Articulated Lorry, Module 4 CPC – Training and in house Testing, Category C & C+E Refresher Training, C+E Reversing Assessment Training, Category B&E Training) or would like a refresher on the rules of driving, give the guys at Truck School Swindon a call on 07813596593. If you are ready to get your career moving and develop your driving ability, we will do all we can to get you started!