What are the Rules if you are an HGV Driver?

There are strict rules in place for HGV drivers in the UK.  The rules are applicable for drivers who are operating any vehicle that is over 3.5 tonnes. The Heavy Goods Vehicles Working Time Directives set out the rules relating to HGV driving.

The Metropolitan Transport Research Unit found that in 2018 HGVs were more likely to be involved in road accidents that were fatal than any other vehicle.  This is often due to the mass and sheer size of the vehicles being driven by HGV drivers. Most HGV accidents can often become serious incidents.

It is important for anyone who is wanting to become an HGV driver, whether working freelance or within a company, to know the rules.

What is the Aim of the HGV Driving Rules?

The main aim of the rule is to ensure that there is safety for drivers and other road users.  Ensuring that drivers comply with the working time directives and rules means that drivers are less likely to fall asleep at the wheel, make driver errors that could result in injury to themselves and others, and minimise reduced reaction times. 

As an HGV driver, your role is not simply to drive the vehicle but to also ensure that you follow the driving rules and laws in place to protect you and others around you. 

It is important that you know what the rules are, and that you comply with them. 

Let’s have a look at what the rules are.

HGV Driver Hours – The Rules

The driver hours rules are explained simply as follows:

  • The daily driving cannot go beyond 9 hours.
  • The daily driving limit of 9 hours can be extended to 10 hours twice a week.
  • Weekly driving hours limit should not exceed 56 hours.
  • The fortnightly driving hours must not be in excess of 90 hours.
  • Drivers must take rest breaks totalling a minimum of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours of driving.
  • The 45-minute break can be divided into two separate periods with one of at least 15 minutes and the second break of 30 minutes. Any break under 15 minutes is not officially classified as a break and neither will it be classed as actual driving time.
  • The breaks cannot be divided into three periods (15 minutes each).
  • Drivers should take a minimum of 11 hours of consecutive daily rest.
  • The daily rest period can be reduced by 2 hours but only on three occasions in a fortnightly period.
  • Drivers are permitted to divide their daily rest into two periods equalling 12 hours in total.
  • If drivers split their daily rest hours, then the initial rest period must be a minimum of 3 hours and the second period should be a minimum of 6 hours.
  • Within six 24-hour periods from the end of the last period of weekly rest, drivers must extend the daily rest period into a weekly rest period.
  • Drivers must, in any two consecutive weeks, take at least two weekly rests that are regular or take one reduced weekly rest period and one regular one.
  • Any reductions in the weekly rest period must be compensated by what is considered to be an equivalent rest period that is taken in a block before the end of the third week that comes after the week that the reduced rest was taken in.
  • Travelling between the driver’s own home to the work site is not considered to be driving time.

The Department for Transport has reminded employers and haulage firms that driver safety cannot be compromised, and the rules must be enforced by employers, not only the HGV drivers themselves.  Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their drivers so it is important that the rules are understood and followed properly.


What Happens if an HGV Driver Breaks the Rules

For any driver who breaks the rules relating to the drivers’ hours, they will face repercussions from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.  There is also a real risk that you could invalidate your truck and HGV insurance.

The likely repercussions could include the following:

  1. A verbal warning could be issued for those offences deemed to be minor.
  2. You could be issued with an offence rectification notice for those offences which are not deemed to be a road safety risk.
  3. A prohibition notice can be issued for those offences considered to be more serious.
  4. Points on your licence or a fine could be issued for serious offences.
  5. You could also be prosecuted for serious offences, or those offences committed multiple times.


Although many fleet services and HGV vehicles now use vehicle safety technology, complying with the HGV driver rules ensure that drivers and fleets are kept safe. 

Overtired and overworked HGV drivers are more likely to suffer lapses in concentration and make errors that could result in catastrophic injuries to the HGV drivers and other road users.


HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.  Always check the details of your insurance policy to ensure that it covers the work you do and all your requirements.

ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes that cover everything a HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.