Driving a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) professionally is very different from driving a car, and there are certain rules you need to be aware of in order to be compliant and stay legal.
There are rules that dictate the checks you should make on your vehicle, the amount of hours you can drive in a day and the amount of rest you should have each week.
They are there for everyone’s safety, so make sure you know your responsibilities or you could place yourself and others in danger. You could also receive a fine of up to £1,500 and you could go to court.
If you employ HGV drivers but do not drive yourself, make sure you insist that they follow the rules and do not force them to work longer than they should.
Firstly, make sure you have adequate commercial HGV insurance in place for you and your drivers. There are many factors to consider, including the weight of the vehicles, the driving history of you and your drivers, the type of vehicle and load, and more. Using the services of a specialist lorry insurance broker will help you find the most appropriate and cost-effective solution.
Make the required vehicle checks
The driver of the HGV should always check over the entire vehicle before setting out on a journey. There are many checks to make to ensure everything is in good condition, but it only takes a few minutes to go over them all. They include:
- load security;
- brake lines;
- condition of battery;
- coupling security;
- windscreen wipers;
You can see a full list of the checks to make on the Government’s website, which you can print out and keep with you.
Daily driving limits
There are strict rules in place governing the amount of time you can drive in one go before having a break. At the time of writing (June 2014) The rules state that you can only drive for 4.5 hours before having a break of 45 minutes, followed by another 4.5 hours of driving.
You can split your rest up into two breaks, so one of 30 minutes and one of 15 minutes. However, you cannot split your rest into three breaks of 15 minutes.
Also, you cannot complete more than 9 hours of driving on a normal day. However, you can do 10 hours a day twice a week.
Weekly driving limits
There are also limits on weekly HGV driving. The maximum number of hours you can drive in a single week is 56 hours. However, the fortnightly limit is 90 hours.
This means if you drive one week for 56 hours, the next week you must drive for a maximum of 34 hours.
Full information about the breaks can be found on the Warwickshire Police website.
Make sure you get enough rest
The standard requirement for regular daily rest is 11 hours. However, there is a reduced rest period of 9 hours, which you can do on a maximum of three occasions between two standard rest periods.
Daily rest can be divided into two periods of a total of 12 hours. The first of these must be at least 3 hours, and the second at least 9 hours. You cannot divide it into more than two periods of rest.
The standard weekly rest is 45 hours, but there is also a reduced rest period of a minimum of 24 hours. In two consecutive weeks, you must have a minimum of either two regular weekly rests, or one regular rest and one reduced rest. However, if you do have reduce rest, you must compensate the reduction in rest by making up the time in a block before the third week of driving ends.
Know the rules and stay legal
Whether you are the HGV driver or you employ other drivers, make sure you know the rules. They are there for the safety of all road users, so stick to them, avoid fines and, most importantly, stay safe on the road.
Note that in other parts of Europe, there may be different rules relating to the number of hours you can drive an HGV and how long periods of rest must be. Make sure you are aware of these rules before driving in mainland Europe.