Ensuring driver safety through work and rest rules

2024 03 29

Ensuring driver safety through work and rest rules

Every industry has some level of safety rules to protect workers. The freight transport industry is no exception. As driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of accidents involving heavy goods vehicles, many countries have adopted rules to address this problem.

One of the ways to ensure safety is through working time and mandatory rest periods for drivers. Rest and work periods determine the number of hours a driver is allowed to drive a heavy goods vehicle, the length of breaks, daily and weekly rest periods.

Tachograph reading

Transport companies must keep records of drivers’ working hours to ensure compliance with these rules, as failure to do so can result in heavy fines. For this reason, smart freight carriers are encouraged to find ways to improve and simplify this administrative process.

Working and resting time and its management primarily promote road safety by preventing driver fatigue and contributing to the overall well-being of the driver.

Long driving hours without adequate rest make it difficult to make good decisions, can lead to reduced focus, slower reaction times and increase the risk of accidents.

Tachographs are now used to ensure proper working and resting time for drivers. These devices regularly record driving times, rest periods and other important data. This is why heavy goods vehicles are often required to be fitted with tachographs to help monitor compliance and keep accurate records.

Working time and rest periods for drivers

To ensure safer driving conditions and to prevent fatigue at the wheel, an EU regulation has set guidelines on the number of hours per day a driver can drive a vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

According to the regulation, the maximum daily driving time for truck drivers is limited to 9 hours, with the possibility to extend it to 10 hours twice a week.

Drivers must be allowed at least 11 consecutive hours of daily rest. Alternatively, the normal daily rest period may be divided into two periods, the first being a continuous period of at least 3 hours and the second being a continuous period of at least 9 hours within 24 hours of the start of the working day.

In addition, drivers must not exceed 56 hours of driving per week or 90 hours per fortnight. Drivers must be given 45 hours of uninterrupted rest per week, which can be reduced to 24 hours every other week. However, this rest period cannot be used in the vehicle.

Why is it important to comply with the rules?

While EU regulations set common standards, some countries aim to be flexible, but flexibility must not deliberately compromise the safety or well-being of the driver.

In addition to legal and financial penalties, the safety of drivers can be jeopardised, so it is very important that transport companies comply with the above provisions.

Drivers are arguably the most valuable asset of any successful transport company, and companies that prioritise driver well-being are more likely to attract and successfully retain skilled and experienced drivers. Companies that emphasise the safety of their employees also build a positive reputation among their customers, relevant authorities, and the public.