Keeping Safe and Compliant Whilst Driving an HGV

Keeping Safe and Compliant Whilst Driving an HGV

As an HGV Driver, there are many rules and regulations that you need to follow regarding driving hours. The rules regarding driving hours have been put into place to protect drivers and reduce the risk of fatigue-induced accidents.

The hours an HGV driver works for is recorded by a tachograph. A tachograph is a device that is fitted to a vehicle that automatically records things such as a driver’s speed, distance and time driven.

There are two types of tachographs

Digital Tachograph

Automatically records all data and stores it on the driver’s card.

Analogue Tachograph

This needs the driver to enter the details manually and is recorded on paper.

Driver's Digital Tachograph Cards - Staying Legal

Who Needs a tachograph?

You need a tachograph if your vehicle comes under EU or AETR rules. A few examples of vehicles that require a tachograph include:

A tachograph is not required for private use such as towing a caravan.

  • Vehicles carrying passengers e.g. coach drivers
  • HGV’s e.g. carrying goods
  • Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used for business

HGV Driving Hours

If you drive an HGV, then you need to be aware of the rules that are in place for driving hours and rest periods. You must follow these rules because if you don’t it can result in fixed penalties and points on your licence. The maximum daily limit that HGV drivers are allowed to drive for in a day is 9 hours, this can be increased to 10 hours twice in a week. The maximum weekly allowance is 56 hours and the maximum 2 weekly limits is 90 hours.

When completing a journey, you must take a 45-minute break when you have driven for 4.5 hours. Additionally, you can take split breaks which means you can split your 45-minute break into a 15-minute break followed by a 30-minute break.

Finally, a rest period needs to be taken. A regular daily rest period is 11 hours, this can also be taken in 2 parts of 3 hours uninterrupted rest, followed by at least 9 hours. A driver can also take a reduced daily rest period which is a minimum of 9 hours uninterrupted rest, this can only be done 3 times a week.

For example, if you drove for 4.5 hours you would need to take a 45-minute break before you could complete another 4.5 hours. This would equate to the maximum 9 hours driving limit a day. Additionally, you would need an 11-hour rest period between then and the next time you start to drive.

Can These Rules Change?

There are a few instances in which these rules can be temporarily relaxed such as:

  • Severe weather conditions
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Mechanical breakdowns
  • Causes or likely causes of danger to life or health to people or animals.

A driver can also continue driving in order to find a safe place to stop and need to record the reasons for which they had to continue driving.

For more information on all things regarding drivers working hours, you can find this in the Government website. Titled, Driver Hours: Rules and Guidance.

Interior checks that need to be completed

  • No cracks, discolouring or scratches to any glass or mirrors.
  • All mirrors are in place and aren’t damaged or have any objects blocking them.
  • All windscreen wipers work and aren’t damaged.
  • No obstruction to the windscreen, meaning your view of the road needs to be clear.
  • All dashboard lights and gauges are working.
  • The horn works.
  • Height marker shows the correct height for your vehicle.
  • Seatbelts work and don’t have any cuts/damages, stay secure when plugged in, constrict against you when fastened and fully retract when released.
  • The steering is working correctly.
  • The brakes are working correctly.

HGV vehicle checks being completed before driver training

Exterior checks that need to be completed

  • All lights and indicators work properly and are secured correctly. Additionally, check that stop lights come on when the service break is pressed and go off when it is released.
  • Check the fuel filler cap is fitted properly and check underneath the vehicle for any leaks.
  • The battery is secure, in good condition and isn’t leaking at all.
  • All cab/trailer doors are secured, fastening devices work, body panels aren’t likely to fall off.
  • The exhaust doesn’t give out larger than expected amounts of smoke.
  • Tyres & wheels are secure, inflated correctly, wheel nuts are tightened, no deep cuts or visible cords showing and tyres need to have a tread depth of at least 1mm.
  • Brake line and trailer parking brakes work & have no obstructions, leaks or damages that could affect their performance.
  • Check every electrical connection and ensure that visible wiring is insulated and not damaged. Also, check all electrical switches work.
  • The load of the vehicle is secure and doesn’t look like it will move around on your journey. If you aren’t satisfied with how the load is secure ensure it is checked again by someone else and potentially re-loaded.
  • Number plates must be visible meaning they can’t be faded, dirty or covered by anything. It is also important to check that number plates aren’t broken or have incorrect spacing.
  • Reflectors & side reflectors aren’t missing, broken, the wrong colour or covered by dirt or other objects.
  • The trailer legs are wound up, secure and aren’t in the way of any hazards that could be in the road.
  • Marking & warning plates are the right colour, visible and fastened properly.
  • Check your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer and that the trailer and secondary locking devices are in the correct position.
  • The handbrake works and is secured.

For more information, you can visit the Government website, which outlines walkaround checks.

As you are aware, driver’s hours are extremely tightly regulated to avoid accidents caused by tiredness, which in some cases can be fatal, so this card is aimed at keeping everyone safe on the road including you. The Digi card automatically tracks your speed, movement and any time you are on the road, so it builds up an accurate picture of your driving which can be quickly and easily checked to make sure it’s within all legal limits.

If you’re not careful you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law with your card quite easily. Breaching any of the laws around digital drivers cards can see you imprisoned for up to two years – that’s how important these are.

Your Easy Guide To Tachograph Cards

Produce your card

Any time you’re asked to produce your card when you’re driving a relevant vehicle, you should provide it. This applies even if you’ve never used your card before. If you have it, you need to show it when asked.

Updating your details

Must be updated with current/correct details.

You should always have your current and correct details on it. If you spot any errors, you should let the DVLA know immediately. The same goes if you change your address or any other personal details logged on the card.

Report any problems

If your card is lost or stolen or is damaged to the point that it can’t be used, report this to the DVLA immediately if possible, and make sure you do so within 7 days to stay within the law. If your card is damaged, you’ll also need to send it back to the DVLA, and if you think a card is lost or stolen and have reported it but later find it you’ll need to send the card to the DVLA after you’ve downloaded the data from it.

Between Cards?

If you’re waiting for a new card for any reason (perhaps because the old card was lost or damaged) you’ll need to make printed records at the beginning and end of each day which includes your name, licence number or driver card number, as well as the vehicle registration number, and your signature on the printed pages.

Holding another Card

You cannot hold another driver card issued by the UK at the same time as you have a driver card from another EC Member State. The card you need depends on where you actually live for at least 185 days per year, and if you change your main address from the UK to another EC Member State or vice versa you’ll need to make the relevant applications to change cards.

You’re also not allowed to have more than one card that has your own details on it, unless this is in the one-month time period between your current card expiring and your new card coming into use, or if you hold onto your expired card as well as your current card.

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