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Driving time and rest periods in the road transport sector
Sectors of Transport:
Transport, Employment and social policy, Internal market, Road transport, Labour law, Single market for goods, Working conditions, Motor vehicles, Working time rules, Technical implications of road safety
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2020/1054, lays down rules on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers of lorries, coaches and buses in order to improve working conditions and road safety.
Regulation (EU) No 165/2014, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2020/1054, sets out requirements concerning the construction, installation, use, testing and control of tachographs that must be fitted in the vehicles that fall within the scope of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006:
applies to the carriage by road of goods, by vehicles with a total mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes and to the transport by road of passengers, by vehicles that are adapted to carry more than 9 people (including the driver);
as of 1 July 2026, applies to the carriage by road of goods in international transport or in cabotage operations by vehicles (including any trailer or semi-trailer) with a total mass exceeding 2.5 tonnes;
applies, irrespective of the country of registration of the vehicle, to carriage by road in the EU and between EU countries, Switzerland and European Economic Area countries.
Drivers’ mates and conductors must be at least 18, except in certain circumstances for trainee drivers’ mates for whom the minimum age is 16 (see Article 5 for more details).
Rules on driving times, breaks and rest periods
Detailed rules for these are set out in Articles 6, 7, 8 and 9. They include:
a maximum amount of daily driving time of 9 hours, that can be extended to 10 hours no more than twice a week;
a maximum amount of weekly driving time of 56 hours;
a maximum total accumulated driving time of 90 hours during any 2 consecutive weeks;
after driving for a period of 4.5 hours, a driver must take an uninterrupted break of not less than 45 minutes, unless he takes a rest period;
a minimum daily rest of 11 hours, which can be reduced to 9 hours, but no more than three times between any 2 weekly rest periods;
a regular weekly rest period of minimum 45 hours and a reduced weekly rest period of a minimum of 24 hours.
Minimum conditions for the implementation of the regulation
Directive 2006/22/EC, as amended by Directive (EU) 2020/1057, lays down the minimum conditions for the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 (see section on tachographs below).
It seeks to ensure proper application and harmonised interpretation of the social rules on road transport by laying down minimum requirements for the uniform and effective checking by EU countries of compliance with the relevant rules. Those checks should serve to reduce and prevent infringements.
It requires EU countries to introduce a risk rating system for transport companies based on the relative number and severity of any infringements that the individual company has committed. Companies with a high risk rating must be checked more closely and more often.
Under Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 (see summary), tachographs must be installed in all vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes transporting goods by road, and in vehicles that can carry more than 9 people (including the driver), with certain exceptions. As of 1 July 2026, tachographs must be installed in vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes involved in road international transport or in cabotage operations.
Tachograph technology moved firstly from analogue to digital and then on from digital to more advanced digital, i.e. smart.
Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 introduced rules on smart tachographs — a new generation of on-board devices to enforce the EU legislation on professional drivers’ driving and resting times. Smart tachographs are mandatory in all new vehicles registered after 15 June 2019. Smart tachographs provide automated recording through satellite positioning of driving time, breaks and rest periods, as well as periods of availability and other work undertaken by a driver. They should improve compliance and permit early detection of possible fraud or misuse.
Amending Regulation (EU) 2020/1054
The rules introduced by the amending regulation include the following.
Transport companies must organise drivers’ work in such a way as to allow them to return to the employer’s operational centre where the drivers are normally based in the EU country or to the drivers’ place of residence and spend at least one regular weekly rest period (or a weekly rest period of more than 45 hours in compensation for a reduced weekly rest period) within each period of 4 consecutive weeks.
Drivers must be able to take their 45-hour weekly rest in suitable gender-friendly accommodation with adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities (i.e. away from the vehicle’s cab), the cost of which must be met by the transport company as the employer.
Drivers’ reduced and regular weekly rest periods must not be interrupted more than twice by other activities not exceeding 1 hour in total, where these drivers accompany vehicles which are transported by ferry or train. This is only in the case of drivers who have access to a sleeper cabin in the ferry or train and, in the case of regular weekly rest, the interruption is only possible where the journey’s scheduled duration is of 8 hours or more.
FROM WHEN DO THE REGULATIONS APPLY?
Regulation (EU) 2020/1054, which amended both Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Regulation (EU) No 165/2014, has applied since 1 August 2020, although Article 1(15) and Article 2(12) will apply from 31 December 2024.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 has applied since 11 April 2007, with the exception of Article 10(5), Article 26(3) and (4), and Article 27, which entered into force on 1 May 2006.
Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 has applied since 2 March 2015, with exceptions listed in its Article 48.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 (OJ L 102, 11.4.2006, pp. 1-14)
Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on tachographs in road transport, repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport (OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, pp. 1-33)
Directive 2006/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on minimum conditions for the implementation of Council Regulations (EEC) No 3820/85 and (EEC) No 3821/85 concerning social legislation relating to road transport activities and repealing Council Directive 88/599/EEC (OJ L 102, 11.4.2006, pp. 35-44)