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A drivers guide to driving in the UK
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Bus Drivers EU Hours Rules

Information for Bus drivers on the legal hours they are allowed to work according to EU laws. Help and information avaiblable on all legal breaks they are required to take and what exemptions there are.

EU Rules
Breaks and limits

EU rules on drivers’ hours

The EU rules (Regulation (EC) 561/2006) apply to drivers of most passenger vehicles constructed or permanently adapted to carry more than nine people including the driver, used for the carriage of passengers within the UK or between the UK and other EU and EEA countries and Switzerland. Vehicle operations that take place off the public road or vehicles that are never used to carry passengers on a public road are out of scope.
A driver is anyone who drives a vehicle or is carried on the vehicle in order to be available for driving.


‘Driving time’ is the duration of driving activity recorded either by the recording equipment or manually when the recording equipment is broken.

Even a short period of driving under EU rules during any day by a driver will mean that he is in scope of the EU rules for the whole of that day and must comply with the daily driving, break and rest requirements; he will also have to comply with the weekly rest requirement and driving limit.

Breaks and driving limits

After a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes unless he takes a rest period. A break taken in this way must not be interrupted. For example:


Alternatively, a full 45-minute break can be replaced by one break of at least 15 minutes followed by another break of at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be distributed over the 4.5-hour period. Breaks of less than 15 minutes will not contribute towards a qualifying break, but neither will they be counted as duty or driving time. The EU rules will only allow a split-break pattern that shows the second period of break being at least 30 minutes, such as in the following examples:

Legal Driving Break Patterns

A driver ‘wipes the slate clean’ if he takes a 45-minute break (or qualifying breaks totalling 45 minutes) before or at the end of a 4.5-hour driving period. This means that the next 4.5-hour driving period begins with the completion of that qualifying break, and in assessing break requirements for the new 4.5-hour period, no reference is to be made to driving time accumulated before this point. For example:

45 minute break

Breaks may also be required under the separate Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. See Annex 2 on page 43 for further details.

Daily driving limit
The maximum daily driving time is 9 hours; for example:

Daily Driving Limits

So, for example, any time spent driving off road between a parking/rest area and a passenger-loading area prior to travelling out onto a public road would constitute driving time. But it would be regarded as other work where all the passengers were picked up and dropped off on the same off-road site.

Weekly driving limit
The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours, which applies to a fixed week (see below).

Weekly Driving Limits

The following is an example of how a driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly and two-weekly driving limits:

Drivers Duties

Exemptions and Derogations

The following table contains a list extracted from the full list of exemptions in the EU rules and refers to those exemptions that might apply to passenger-carrying vehicles regardless of where they are driven within the EU (see also ‘Unforeseen events’ on page 18).
Note: In some cases, it may be necessary to refer to case law for definitive interpretations.

Exemptions and Derogations

The EU rules grant member states the power to apply derogations to further specific categories of vehicles and drivers while on national journeys. The following derogations have been implemented in the UK.

Note: In some cases, it may be necessary to refer to case law for definitive interpretations.

Exemptions and Derogations Notes
More Exemptions and Derogations Notes

In addition, the following vehicles are exempt from the EU rules in GB after the European Commission granted a special authorisation:

• any vehicle that was manufactured before 1 January 1947; and
• any vehicle that is propelled by steam.

If it is exempt from the EU rules due to the provisions listed above then the vehicle will usually be in scope of the GB domestic rules when travelling in GB

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