Drivers Hours

Drivers Hours

Driver fatigue is a known risk factor in road collisions. Fatigue can cause loss of concentration or, worse, lead to a driver falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue is a significant factor in heavy commercial vehicle crashes. 

EU law regulates the driving time of professional drivers using goods vehicles over 3.5t (including trailers) and passenger vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats. 
The key requirements are that you must not drive:

  • Without a break for more than 4.5 hours. After driving for 4.5 hours, a break of at least 45 minutes is mandatory.  You can distribute that break over the 4.5 hours by taking a 15 minute break followed by a 30 minute break. 
  • For more than nine hours per day or 56 hours per week. This may be extended to 10 hours no more than twice during a week 
  • More than 90 hours in two consecutive weeks

There are also strict regulations regarding the average working time and the amount of rest that must be taken daily and weekly. 

For more information about driver hours/working time, see the RSA booklets “EU Rules on Drivers’ Hours(PDF)​” & Guide to the Road Transport Working Time Directive (PDF)" or contact the Road Safety Authority on (091) 872 600.

The amount of time a driver is on the road is measured using Tachographs. There are two kinds: Digital and Analogue. 

Key rules for Drivers using Digital Tachographs. 

When driving a vehicle with a digital tachograph, you should:

  • use the driver card every day you drive, starting from the moment you take over the vehicle 
  • ​set the mode switch to the correct activity and make sure to use it throughout your working period to record other work, periods of availability, rests and breaks 
  • remove your driving card when the vehicle is taken over by another driver, or when the vehicle is not under your custody or if another driver could drive it 
  • protect your card, keep it clean and do not bend it 
  • ​record the country in which you begin and end your daily work period. (always doing this at the start and end of the period) 
  • manually enter your activities of any – other work, breaks, rest and periods of availability – since you last removed your driver card from a tachograph.

From 1 January 2008, you must be able to produce, whenever an enforcement officers requests them:

  • your driver card 
  • ​any manual record and printout made during the current day and the previous 28 days and 
  • ​analogue charts for any vehicle fitted with an analogue tachograph driven by the driver in the current day and the previous 28 days

Key rules for Drivers using Analogue Tachographs

If you are driving a vehicle which does not have a digital tachograph fitted but comes under the driver hours rules then you should record your hours using an analogue chart. In particular you should make sure that the centre field of all analogue charts is completed correctly and in full.

Analogue record sheets

Analogue record sheets must contain the following:

  • surname and first name of driver 
  • date and place where the use of the sheet begins and the date and
  • place where the sheet ends 
  • registration number of each vehicle to which the driver is assigned at the start of the first journey that is recorded on the sheet and then, if ​there is a change of vehicle, during the use of the sheet 
  • ​odometer reading: at the start of the first journey,  at the end of the last journey, and  if there is a change of vehicle during a working day, on the vehicle to which the driver was assigned and on the vehicle to which the driver is changing 
  • time of any change of vehicle 

​Operator responsibilities

The vehicle operator has key responsibilities in relation to both kinds of tachograph: 

  • To download the data from the driver’s cards (at least every 21 days) and vehicle units (at least every 90 days) and save this information as well as any analogue charts or printouts made for one year. This information must be made available in its “raw” format to an enforcement officer on request. 
  • To monitor drivers’ records and print-outs. If there are breaches of drivers’ rules, the operator must address them and take steps to ensure they do not happen again. 

Making a Confidential Complaint/Report

If you have concerns that an operator or driver may be acting illegally in relation to Vehicle Roadworthiness, Drivers Hours, Tachographs and/or Unlicensed Haulage your can submit a confidential complaint to the RSA. Find out how to submit your complaint on our complaints page. ​

RSA Prosecutions

The RSA is responsible for enforcing EU and national transport legislation on tachographs, EU driver hour rules, Road transport working time directive elements of the licensing of road haulage and passenger operators to engage in hire and reward operations and Drivers CPC​​. ​Since 2009 the RSA have initiated prosecutions against drivers and operators in respect of breaches of this legislation and details of completed prosecutions can be found on the 
prosecutions section of the RSA website​

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