FleetCheck clarifies how many 15-hour days HGV drivers can legally drive in a week.

The laws around how many hours HGV drivers can legally do in a day, week, or month, can be confusing and challenging to understand at first.

Once you get a good understanding of what the UK’s driver’s laws are and why they’re set out the way they are, it all starts to make sense.

There is a lot more to consider than just the maximum number of hours a driver can do in a 24-hour period. Although wanting to know how many hours someone can work in a day is often their first consideration.

How many 15-hour days can a HGV driver drive?

The laws around how many hours someone can operate a heavy goods vehicle in a 24-hour period is very clear.

An HGV driver must rest for a minimum of nine hours within a 24-hour period up to three times a week, which allows them to work three 15-hour days in the same week.

How many hours can a HGV driver work in a week?

The maximum number of hours a HGV driver can work in any given week is 56 hours.

This is worked out by driving for nine hours on four days, and 10 hours for another two days.

How many hours can a HGV driver work in two weeks?

Working two consecutive weeks is also where drivers have their hours on the road throttled by law.

An HGV driver may not exceed 90-hours over two consecutive weeks. This means, if they work the maximum 56 hours in the first week, they can only drive a maximum of 34 hours the following week.

HGV drivers’ breaks explained

HGV drivers are required to take a certain number of breaks covering set times as follows:

Drivers must take a 45-minute break for every 4.5 hours they have spent driving.

They are able to split this break into two. However, the first break must be at least 15 minutes, leaving the remaining 30 minutes for the second break.

Stops less than 15 minutes long do not qualify as breaks.

HGV drivers’ rest periods explained

Here is how rest periods work for HGV drivers:

Drivers need to take a daily rest period of 11 hours. This can be taken to two parts, with the first needing to be a minimum of 3 hours.

They can reduce their daily rest period to nine hours of uninterrupted time, hence allowing for a 15-hour workday. This can be done no more than three times a week though.

A driver must rest for 45 hours a week. This can be reduced to 24 hours providing they take full rest within a two-week period.

There cannot be more than six 24-hour rest periods between weekly rests consecutively

As an example, if a driver starts work at 8 am, within a 24-hour period they will have to have done one of the following;

  • Taken an 11-hour rest period without interruption
  • Taken a reduced daily rest period of a minimum of 9 hours if entitled to
  • Split their rest period of 12 hours across two periods with a minimum of 3 hours first, and nine hours second

Penalties for breaking the working hour rules

There are some harsh penalties for breaking the hourly rules – and rightly so as working more hours increases the risk of a road accident due to fatigue.

All HGVs with a gross mass of 3,500kg and above will have a tachograph fitted. This device records a vehicle’s speed, distance travelled, and gives operators a detailed understanding of a driver’s activity.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is the governing body responsible for upholding the rules in the UK. The maximum fine they can issue for each offence currently stands at £2,500.

Operators can also have their licence suspended or revoked. There are steeper punishments for repeat offenders, both for operators and drivers.