Driver hours

The number of hours a professional driver can drive in a day or week is closely regulated in order to minimise fatigue-related collisions. Find out which rules apply to you.

Temporary relaxation of EU driving and resting time rules due to COVID-19

Introduction: In light of the potential impact of the Coronavirus on HGV operations and the importance of the road haulage sector to the national economy and in response to requests from the haulage industry, the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have agreed to allow a temporary and urgent derogation in respect of certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules. The proposed derogation will apply to all operators and drivers subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of goods.

Coming into effect: The derogation comes into immediate effect from 18 March 2020 up to 16 April 2020 which will be reviewed every week as regards application and scope.

Description of proposed derogation:  The driving time rules are being relaxed by lifting the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 112 hours. As a consequence of this approach, drivers will be entitled to drive a maximum 56 hours in each consecutive week until further notice (there is no change to the rules relating to working time).
The rules relating to weekly rest are also being relaxed by allowing drivers to take a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours in each consecutive week during the relaxation period. There will be no obligation on a driver to take at least one (1) regular weekly rest period in any two consecutive weeks until further notice. Furthermore, there shall not be any requirement for compensation where reduced weekly rest is being taken.

As outlined above, there is no change to the rules relating to working time.

The RSA may amend or withdraw this relaxation of the rules if there is a change in circumstances.

Operator obligations
The RSA wishes to emphasise that HGV operators are required to mitigate the risks of disruption to transport operations and to plan accordingly and ensure compliance with the rules.

Appropriate arrangements must be put in place to record any extra driving time being undertaken by drivers resulting from the Coronavirus crisis.  Drivers must record on the back of their analogue tachograph charts or digital tachograph print-outs (as soon as they finish their daily working period) the reasons and justification why they are exceeding the prescribed limits. Where there is a failure to do so, this will cause delays and issues at inspections. The practical implementation of this temporary relaxation of the rules should be agreed by employers with their drivers.

HGV operators must put in place contingency measures to cater for emergency and urgent situations and this must be properly documented and retained for inspection. Documentary evidence in support of the reason for taking extra driving should retained for at least 12 months. Any deviation from the driving and resting time rules must be a last resort.  During inspections, the history of the driver and operator overall compliance with the rules will be carefully assessed.

While the current situation may impact on driving time, driver safety or other road user’s safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not deviate from the rules if it jeopardises road safety nor should they be expected to drive whilst tired - employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users. 


Note. Publication of Convictions: In circumstances where a person or operator is convicted of a road transport related offence, details of the conviction (including name and penalty applied) are  published on the prosecutions section of our website.  

Driver 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.


Tachographs are instruments that measure the amount of time a driver is on the road. 

There are two kinds: digital and analogue.

Both are fitted in the cab of trucks and buses and are used to monitor compliance with driver hours’ legislation.

Digital tachographs became mandatory in new commercial lorries and buses in May 2006.

The provision of driver cards for use by drivers, companies, calibration workshops and enforcement officers is central to digital tachographs.

Data is stored in the vehicle unit memory and on driver smart cards. The data contains a range of information including distance covered, vehicle speed (for previous 24 hours of driving), vehicle licence number, and driver activity (driving, rest, breaks, other work, periods of availability).

A driver’s card can store information for a minimun of 28 days before it begins to be overwritten; the vehicle unit has a larger memory capacity and can store data for 365 days.

Exemption notice: please note that certain types of commercial vehicle may not require to use a tachograph 

Operator responsibilities

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

  • To download the data from the driver’s cards (at least every 28 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

Make a Complaint relating to Vehicle Roadworthiness, Drivers Hours, Tachographs and/or Unlicensed Haulage

If you have any concerns that an operator or driver may be acting illegally as regards Driver Hours/Tachograph requirements you can report your concerns in confidence to the RSA in any of the following ways

  • By phone – You can speak to one of our staff on 091 872600 (enforcement section) or call our lo-call confidential hotline on 1890 253 163.
  • In Person – Call into our office, Clonfert House, Bride Street, Loughrea, Co Galway.  Where you can speak to one of our staff in the strictest confidence
  • In Writing – Post your complaint to Enforcement Section, Road Safety Authority, Clonfert House, Bride Street, Loughrea, Co Galway
  • By email – Complete a complaint form (DOC)​ and submit to [email protected]
  • Online - make a complaint online​​ via our website.​


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 in our prosecutions section


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