Tachograph rules, driver hours, and working time

Tachograph regulations consist of a complex set of rules which can be difficult to understand, not to mention to apply. On top of that, tachograph offences carry heft penalties for those that fail to adhere to them. To help with this, we’ve assembled a straightforward guide about the most important rules on drivers’ hours, working hours, and tachographs.

What is a tachograph?

A tachograph is a system that records vehicle speed, driving time and drivers’ activities. Tachographs are installed into commercial vehicles, including HGVs and buses. Tachographs ensure that the EU rules and laws for drivers’ hours, breaks and rest periods, which still apply to the UK, are adhered to.

Types of tachographs

There are two types of tachographs; analogue and digital. All commercial vehicles registered from 1st May 2006 onwards must be fitted with a digital tachograph.

Four types of smart cards are used with the digital tachograph: the Driver Card, the Company Card, the Control Card, and the Workshop Card.

What does a Digital Tachograph record?

Digital tachographs record and store the following data:

  • Vehicle registration number
  • Vehicle speed
  • Single or co-driver
  • The number of times a driver card is inserted each day
  • The distance travelled, captured via odometer readings
  • Driver activity – this includes driving time, rests, breaks, availability, and other activity
  • Date and time of activity change
  • Prohibited events/actions – this includes speeding, driving without a driver card, tampering and fraud attempts
  • Enforcement checks
  • Details of tachograph calibrations
Driver Cards

Every driver will hold one personal card that’s valid for five years. The Driver Card registers the dates and times the driver has used the card and the vehicle they used it in. The card also stores the recorded data for each day the card is used, with a typical memory capacity of 28 days. Driver Card data can be displayed on the tachograph screen, printed out by the vehicle unit, or downloaded.

Drivers’ hours rules and working time rules
Why are there two sets of rules?

When EU drivers’ rules were introduced, they restricted the volume of driving drivers could do and the amount of rest they needed to take. However, some drivers were still expected to work long hours doing other work in addition to their driving. Therefore, the EU decided that drivers following the EU drivers’ rules should also have restrictions on the overall number of hours they could work and introduced working time rules.

Even though the UK has left the EU, you still need to follow the EU rules regarding drivers’ hours, working time, and tachographs.

Drivers’ hours rules

The rules apply to drivers if the vehicle’s maximum weight is more than 3.5 tonnes and they’re driving in the UK or to, from or through an EU country.

  • 9 hours daily driving limit (this can be extended to 10 hours a day twice a week)
  • Maximum 56 hours weekly driving limit
  • Maximum 90 hours fortnightly driving limit

You must also record your driving under EU rules on a tachograph.

  • You must take a 45-minute break after 4.5 hours of driving
  • You must take a break or breaks that total at least 45 minutes after no more than 4 hours and 30 minutes of driving
  • You must have a minimum of 11 hours of rest every day (this can be reduced to 9 hours no more than three times a week)
  • You must have an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week (this can be reduced to 24 hours, provided at least one complete rest is taken in any fortnight)
  • There should be no more than six consecutive 24-hour periods between weekly rests
Working time rules


Working time, including driving:

  • Working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours a week (no opt-out, calculated over 17 weeks, but can be extended to 26 weeks under collective or workforce agreement)
  • Maximum working time of 60 hours in one week (provided it doesn’t exceed the average)
  • Maximum working time of 10 hours for night work (can be extended under a collective or workforce agreement)
  • You cannot work more than 6 hours without a break (a break should be a minimum of 15 minutes long)
  • You should take a 30-minute break if you’re working between 6 and 9 hours in total
  • If you’re working more than 9 hours in total, you should take a 45-minute break

The working time rest rules are the same as the drivers’ hours rules.

If you’re an HGV driver looking for a new opportunity, we have a variety of roles available throughout the UK. You can check them out on our Driving Jobs page, or you can email us at info@bluestones-sc.co.uk, and a member of our team will be happy to help you find what you’re looking for.