When driving lorries for a living, as well as following the Highway Code applies to all drivers, there are other rules which need to be adhered to.
These rules focus around rest breaks and driving hour, 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.
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.
Every day there should be at least 11 hours rest or nine hours three times a week.
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.
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.