How long can you drive that van for? The law on van driving hours

Monday, 22 May 2017

HOW many hours do you spend behind the wheel of your van? Are you aware that the amount of driving that you do is governed by law on van driving hours?

No? Well, would you be worried about a fine of up to £300? Or a possible custodial sentence if you cause an accident when you’re over hours?

Yes, have I got your attention? Good, as there are two sets of rules which apply in the UK. The first are the ‘EU Rules’ which covers most drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. The others are the domestic rules, which apply to drivers of good vehicles excluded from the EU rules.

As a guide, the domestic rules cover most van driving, although you should be aware which rules you’re following,

The Domestic Rules on van driving hours

These apply to goods and vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes and there are just two main limits.

So to sum up, with the Domestic Rules, you can spend 11 hours of the day working, but no more than 10 of those can be driving.


There must be some exceptions to these rules I hear you ask, and you’d be right. In fact, if you drive a vehicle to which these rules apply, but spend just four hours at the most behind the wheel per week, then you’re not subject to the ‘daily duty’ limit on any day of the week.

However, confusingly, if you exceed more than four hours in one day, the limit is applied to the whole week!

If you’re any of the following, you only have to keep to the 10-hour daily driving rule:

Doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife, vet, work in any inspection service, cleaner, work in maintenance, work in repair, work in installation or fitting, commercial travellers, work for the AA or RAC, work in cinema or radio broadcasting, have to drive off-road for agricultural, forestry, quarrying or civil engineering purposes.

The Domestic Rules don’t apply to drivers in the armed forces, police and the fire brigade, drivers who stay off of public roads and any private driving that’s not for employment.

These limits can also be exceeded when immediate action is needed to deal with life or death emergencies, serious interruptions to public services such as water and gas, serious interruptions to the use of roads, railways, sea ports and more. Finally, events that are likely to do serious damage to property.

EU Rules on van driving hours

These apply to vehicles and vehicle combinations that exceed 3.5 tonnes maximum. Therefore, these rules will only apply to van drivers towing trailers.


They total 28, but there are no exceptions for drivers who drive occasionally or for short periods.

These regulations may be broken only to reach a suitable stopping place in an emergency.



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