Operator panel: are drivers' hours rules too onerous?

Ashleigh Wight
July 26, 2017


Are the drivers' hours rules too onerous? Should we adhere to EU and UK drivers' hours regulations after leaving the EU? CM's operator panel discusses.

Ask any driver or operator which transport laws they would change if they had the power and they will probably mention either the drivers’ hours rules or the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations. 

The industry often bemoans the application of the UK domestic and EU drivers’ hours rules in the UK, with some operators admitting their drivers sometimes find it difficult to comply with both.

Drivers sometimes struggled to carry out their duties in compliance with the rules. A few cases will involve drivers turning to creating false tachograph records, by removing their card from the tachograph unit or disrupting the recording equipment with a magnet, as a result of this confusion.

According to the DVSA, 46% of the 3,271 offences detected during checks of UK- and foreign-registered trucks, in the year to March 2016, fell into the drivers’ hours category. This type of offence also represented 49% of all convictions achieved by the DVSA that year. This prompted the RHA to call for tougher sanctions for tachograph falsification, namely a much heavier fine and confiscation of the vehicle.

But would making the rules simpler for drivers to follow reduce the likelihood of such offences being committed, whether accidentally or not? CM asked its panel if drivers’ hours rules are too onerous and if the UK should continue to adopt the EU and UK domestic drivers’ hours regulations when it leaves the EU.

Matthew Kibble, MD, Matthew Kibble Transport

"The drivers’ hours rules need simplifying. I realise the rules are there to give us flexibility, with 11-hour breaks that can be reduced to nine and driving periods that can be extended twice a week, but the problem comes when paying back the reduced breaks and extra driving hours – it gets confusing.

"Why not keep it as simple as a maximum 14-hours duty time, a 10-hour rest period and a maximum daily driving time of 10 hours? We could keep the rules on 45-minute breaks, but scrap the rules concerning breaks under the Working Time Directive. When it comes to weekend breaks, drivers could have a single rest period of 36 hours or a minimum of two 24-hour periods taken in the same week. 

"In light of any move, I’m sure we will still have to follow the drivers’ hours rules under the AETR [which are the same as the EU drivers’ hours rules]."

Andy Boyle, owner-driver, former MD, ABE (Ledbury)

"Drivers’ hours rules are – and always have been – too onerous and ridiculously complicated; and there are two sets of rules covering the UK and EU.

"Before last month I was not optimistic that we would be able to extricate the UK from AETR rules, but since Theresa May single-handedly dissolved her majority by way of political autocratic suicide, I don’t believe that under our Brexit agenda we are going to get a great deal.

"The idea we were going to exit the AETR and develop UK domestic rules is unlikely to happen if we want to continue to operate vehicles in the EU. I believe it will be seen as a minority interest, and will therefore slip off the negotiating table without much, or any, discussion.

"The rules need simplifying and rationalising, but while the rules are 
strictly enforced in the UK, and in lessening degrees throughout the other 27 EU member states, alongside Brexit negotiations, I cannot see much happening here any time soon."

Lesley O’Brien, partner, Freightlink Europe

"Since the introduction of the Driver CPC, drivers have a better understanding of EU drivers’ hours rules. Modifying the rules could lead to further confusion. The greatest issue for drivers is understanding how to incorporate the road transport Working Time Directive rules regarding breaks."

About the Author


Ashleigh Wight

Ashleigh is a former news reporter for Commercial Motor and Motor Transport and currently the editor of OHW+ and HR and wellbeing editor at Personnel Today.

Share this article

Vehicle Type