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The time that may be spent driving a goods vehicle and the rest periods that must be taken are fixed by law. There are exemptions to these rules but any goods vehicle excluded has to conform to UK domestic rules.
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Driver's Hours - Rules & Exemptions

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UK and European Driving Rules

  Hours - Basics
Hours - Rules & Exemptions
  Working Time Directive
  Graduated Fixed Penalties
  Sleepiness KILLS!
  ADR Regulations, (links)
  Download Publications
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  London Lorry Routes, (pdf)
 
Introduction and Employers' Duties


The time that may be spent driving a goods vehicle and the rest periods that must be taken are fixed by law.
Most goods Vehicles used for the commercial carriage of goods, whether laden or unladen will be subject to European Community rules as laid down in EC Directive 3820/85.
There are exemptions to these rules but any goods vehicle excluded has to conform to UK domestic rules.
New rules came into effect on 11 April 2007. There were many minor changes.
Download outline of changes, (Word doc; 75 Kb)
Download Official European parliament publication, (Adobe PDF; 416 Kb)

Text below is from pre-April 2007 publications: There may have been changes.
  Vehicles engaged in international journeys to other countries beyond EC external borders have to conform to the AETR rules which have been amended to bring them virtually into line with EC rules.
There is a specific requirements in the EC directive that employers must make periodic checks to ensure that the drivers' hours rules are observed.
Employers must also organise drivers' work in such a way that the requirements of the regulations are not broken.

A Department of Transport book: "A Guide to Goods Vehicle Drivers' Hours, Tachographs and Records" (GV 262) can be obtained free of charge from Traffic Area Offices.
The RHA has produced cab stickers, A4 size, setting out the main EC rules. Supplies are available from RHA Regional Offices.

There is a maximum fine of £2,500 for offences against drivers' hours and records rules.
This applies to drivers and to anyone whose orders the driver was following, i.e. employers.
These offences are not endorsable on driving licences but convictions may be taken into account by Traffic Commissioners in determining the grant of an operator's licence or an LGV driver's licence.
Emergencies
  Provided that road safety is not jeopardised, and to enable him to reach a suitable stopping place, the driver may depart from the driving limits and rest requirements to extend necessary to ensure the safety of persons, of the vehicle or of its load.
A note of the occurrence and the reason why the requirements were disregarded must be made on the back of the tachograph chart.
AETR RULES
  Journeys to, or through, some European countries outside the EC are subject to an international agreement on drivers' hours known as AETR.
The AETR rules apply to the whole of a journey instead of EC Rules.
The AETR rules apply to the former Czechoslovakia, Norway, The Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia), Yugoslavia and the independent states within former Yugoslavia.
For all practical purposes AETR rules have been harmonised with EC rules.
Non-EC and Non-AETR Countries
  When driving in a country which is neither in membership of the EC nor a party to the AETR agreement, for example Switzerland, drivers must observe the drivers' hours requirement of that country.
Domestic Rules
 

Domestic drivers hours rules apply to the drivers' of Vehicles on journeys within the United Kingdom which are exempt from the EC rules.
The rules do not apply to drivers who always drive off the public road (i.e. driving in connection with road improvements or road maintenance, quarrying or other construction work or civil engineering works)

.A driver who drives for less than 4 hours in any day in any fixed week (24:00 hrs Sunday to 24:00 hrs Sunday) does not have to observe the drivers hours requirement during that week.

Daily Driving Limit - Domestic A driver must not drive for more than 10 hours in a day. The daily driving limit applies to time spent at the wheel actually driving on a public road. Off-road driving counts as duty time.

Daily Duty Limit - Domestic A driver must not be on duty for more that 11 hours on any working day. A driver is exempt from the daily duty limit on any working day when he does not drive.

Emergencies
The domestic rules are relaxed for events needing immediate action to avoid danger to life of health; serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity, or drainage); or of telecommunications and postal services; or in the use of roads, railways, ports, airports; or serious damage to property. In these cases the driving and duty limits are suspended for the duration of the emergency.

MIXED DRIVING (DOMESTIC and EC)
  Where a driver uses a vehicle which is subject to the EC rules during a day or week in which he also drives a vehicle subject to Domestic rules he may either observe the EC hours rules all the time, or a combination of both rules as long as the EC limits are not exceeded when driving Vehicles on EC work.

The following points must be considered:
The time spent driving under EC rules cannot count as an off-duty period under Domestic rules.
The time spent driving or on duty under Domestic rules cannot count as a break or rest period under EC rules.
Driving under EC rules counts towards the driving and duty limits under the Domestic rules.
Any EC driving in a week means that the driver must take EX daily and weekly rest. Percy Pallet(tm) is a Trademark of the PSL Group. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the property of their respective owners
Exemptions
 

Exemptions are given to the EC drivers' hours rules and, additionally, national governments may make additional exemptions.

The international and national exemptions under EC regulations are: Vehicles used for the carriage of goods where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.

Vehicles with a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 30 kilometres per hour.
Vehicles used by or under the control of the armed services, civil defence, fire services, and forces responsible for maintaining public order.
Vehicles used in connection with sewerage, flood protections, water, gas and electricity services: highway maintenance and control: refuse collections and disposal: telegraph and telephone services: carriage of postal Articles: radio and television broadcasting and the detection of radio or television transmitters or receivers.
Vehicles used in emergencies or rescue operations.
Specialised Vehicles used for medical purposes.
Vehicles transporting circus and fun-fair equipment.
Specialised breakdown Vehicles.
Vehicles undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, and new or rebuilt
Vehicles which have not yet been put into service.
Vehicles used for non-commercial carriage of goods for personal use.
Vehicles used for milk collection from farms and the return to farms of milk containers or milk products intended for animal feed.

National Exemptions under British Law
Vehicles used by agricultural, horticultural, forestry or fishery undertakings for carrying goods within a 50 kilometre radius of the place where the vehicle is normally based, including local administrative areas the centres of which are situated within that radius. (In the case of fishery undertakings the exemption applies only to the movement of fish from landing to first processing on land and of live fish between fish farms).
Vehicles used for carrying animal waste or carcasses which are not intended for human consumption.
Vehicles used for carrying live animals for farms to local markets and vice versa or from markets to local slaughterhouses
Vehicles used as shops at local markets or for door-to-door selling, or used for mobile banking, exchange or saving transactions, for worship, for the lending of books, records or cassettes, for cultural events or exhibitions, and specially fitted for such uses.
Vehicles with a maximum permissible weight of not more than 7.5 tonnes carrying material or equipment for the drivers' use in the course of his work within a 50 kilometre radius of the place where the vehicle is normally based, provided that driving the Vehicles does not constitute the driver's main activity.
Vehicles operating exclusively on islands not exceeding 2,300 square kilometres in area, which are not linked to the rest of Great Britain by a bridge, ford or tunnel open for use by motor Vehicles.
Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (including batteries) of not more than 7.5 tonnes used for the carriage of goods and propelled by means of gas or electricity.
Vehicles used for driving instructions with a view to obtaining a driving licence, but excluding instructions on a journey connected with carrying a commercial load.
Vehicles operated by The Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Vehicles manufactured before 1st January 1947.
Vehicles propelled by steam.
Vehicles used by Health authorities as ambulances or to carry staff, patients, medical supplies or equipment.
Vehicles used by Local Authority social service departments to provide services for the elderly or physically or mentally handicapped.
Vehicles used by HM Coastguard and Lighthouse services.
Vehicles used by harbour or airport authorities if the vehicle remain wholly within the confined of ports or airports.
Vehicles used by British Rail and other transport authorities when engaged in maintaining railways.
Vehicles used by British Waterways Board when engaged in maintaining navigable waterways.
Tractors used exclusively for agricultural and forestry work.
Certain Vehicles operating under STGO. (Drivers of Vehicles operating under STGO Regulations are exempted from the provisions of EC Drivers Hours Regulations (3820/85) and Recording Equipment Regulations (3821/85).

 

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