Legal driving time in the EU: Breaks, working periods, night work



Freight road transport is a fundamental pillar of the economy within the European Union, as well as an indispensable component of multimodal transport, due to its high accessibility (compared to rail or maritime transport, etc.).


Through the carriers operating throughout the territory of the European Union, the subsequent transshipments are thus avoided, as well as their consequences: costly handling of the goods, quantitative and qualitative losses, loss of certain packages, etc.


In the context of the European legislation in force, regarding the legal driving times in the EU (activity, breaks, night activity), the carriers must know the following important aspects:


Weekly working time in the EU

In the case of road transport activity, the EU norms in force require an average weekly working time of 48 hours. In certain circumstances, this duration can be extended even up to 60 hours, but only if the average for 4 consecutive months of work remains 48 hours / week.


The European Union recognizes the following categories of drivers as workers in road transport industry:


- Persons carrying out activities in the field of road transport (driving, loading, unloading, assisting passengers in boarding / disembarking, cleaning / maintenance, monitoring of loading / unloading activities);


In the case of employers in the field of road freight transport:

- Daily driving period for the contracted staff shall not exceed 9 hours / day;

- Exceptionally (twice a week) the staff is allowed to drive up to 10 hours in one day;

- Total weekly driving time for the contracted personnel may not exceed 56 hours / week;

- The contracted staff cannot drive more than 90 hours / 2 weeks.


Example of weekly working time in the EU:

A driver is hired to transport the goods to another EU Member State. During a single week, the driver works a total of 60 hours, as follows: 56 hours of driving and 4 hours of vehicle maintenance activities. According to the European legislation in force, in the next week, the driver will be entitled to work less than 48 hours, so that at the end of a period of 4 months of activity, the average weekly time will be 48 hours.


Breaks during working days

The norms issued by the European Union impose an obligation of 6 consecutive hours without break, when it comes to the maximum working hours of the drivers.


Break during the working day:

- At least 30 minutes: if driving between 6 and 9 hours; 

- At least 45 minutes: if driving for more than 9 hours;

Resting periods

Employers are obliged to guarantee drivers daily rest periods of at least 11 consecutive hours, which can be reduced to 9 hours maximum 3 times a week. Depending on the context, this rest period can be divided into two-time intervals:


- A first interval of at least 3 hours;

- A second interval of at least 9 hours *


* A break of at least 12 hours is required, in case of choosing to divide the longest period into two shorter time intervals.


Regarding the days off provided to drivers in the EU:


- They must benefit from an uninterrupted rest period of 45 hours / week, which can be reduced every second week to 24 hours.;

- If employers reduce the weekly rest periods, they must provide employees with compensatory measures.

- Drivers must have weekly rest after 6 consecutive working days.

- European legislation gives drivers the right to postpone the weekly rest period for a maximum period of 12 days, starting with the end of the last hour of rest they had.


Night work

If the drivers operating in the European Union are considered night workers (working between 24:00 and 07:00), the daily working time does not exceed 10 hours in each 24 period


For more information on this subject, you can consult the EU Directive on working time in the road transport sector.


Vlad Vrinceanu, DWF - 123cargo partner