Are you as familiar as you should be with the rules on drivers’ hours?

For many of us in the industry they are second nature but it is always worth refreshing your knowledge and ensuring you are adhering to the current rules as there have been changes during the last decade. For anyone new to working as a driver it is crucial to have a full understanding of the rules.

There are clear rules governing:

  • The number of hours a driver can legally drive for
  • The hours that can be worked
  • The breaks which must be taken

Different rules are applied to driving goods vehicles and driving passenger vehicles.

The below information offers an overview of the GB domestic rules. It is important to remember that drivers may also be governed by EU rules and AETR rules.  For further information please refer to

UK drivers' hours

Rules for drivers of goods vehicles

When do GB domestic rules apply?

GB domestic rules apply if the following are true:

  • The maximum permissible weight of the vehicle or vehicle combination is under 3.5 tonnes


  • The vehicle is exempt from EU rules when driven in the UK (for more detail on exemptions please refer to the website

What counts as duty time?

For employed drivers this includes any working time, for self-employed drivers this includes time spent driving a vehicle or doing other work related to the vehicle or its load.

Goods vehicle drivers are limited to a maximum of 10 hours driving in a day and must NOT be on duty for more than 11 hours in any working day.  (This limit doesn’t apply on working days when an individual doesn’t drive).

Rules for drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles

When do GB domestic rules apply?

For vehicles which carry passengers for hire or payment GB domestic rules apply on regular services on routes which do not exceed 50 km.  (On routes which are longer than 50 km EU/AETR rules will apply.)

For the drivers of permit operations vehicles such as school minibuses or vehicles used by community groups in some instances GB domestic rules will apply see the website for more detail

What counts as duty time?

For employed drivers any working time is classed as duty time.  For self-employed drivers, duty time is only the time spent driving the vehicle or doing other work related to the vehicle or its load.

Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles such as coaches and buses must take a break after 5 hours 30 minutes of driving.  This break should be of a duration of at least 30 minutes.

Alternatively, a break must be taken that is at least 45 minutes long within any period of 8 hours 30 minutes.  A break of at least 30 minutes should also be taken at the end of this period, unless it’s the end of the working day.

A working day (‘spreadover’)

Drivers must not work for a period of more than 16 hours between the times of starting and finishing work. (Drivers should be aware that this includes non-driving work and any time off.)

Rest periods

Drivers must take a rest of 10 hours before the first duty and immediately after the last duty in a working week.

A rest of at least 10 hours must be taken between 2 working days (or spreadovers) – this can be reduced to 8.5 hours up to 3 times a week.

At least one period of 24 hours off duty must be taken fortnightly.

There are some exemptions to the GB domestic rules for drivers.  The rules don’t apply to individuals who

  • Drive for less than 4 hours in any day
  • Drive off-road or on private roads during duty time
  • Drive an police, armed forces or fire brigade vehicle
  • Are dealing with an emergency, eg major disruption to public services or danger to life

The above information only gives a brief overview a of GB domestic rules.  Drivers also need to be aware of the EU rules and depending on the countries they drive in the AETR rules.

For a complete guide and further details on driving under both EU and GB domestic rules please refer to the  –