With the introduction of EC 561/2006, this page contains those items of legislation that came into effect on 11th April 2007. Wherever possible we have tried to portray as accurately as possible the information regarding the changes and have taken care to outline the same in a brief but concise format with pictorial content to further assist where required.

Visit our Blog: driving and rest period for many answers of drivers’ and transport operators question.

A rest is an uninterrupted period where a driver may freely dispose of his time. Time spent working in other employment or under obligation or instruction, regardless of the occupation type, cannot be counted as rest, including work where you are self-employed.


After a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes unless he takes a rest period. A break taken in this way must not be interrupted. For example:

drivers breaks

A break is any period during which a driver may not carry out any driving or any other work and which is used exclusively for recuperation. A break may be taken in a moving vehicle, provided no other work is undertaken.

Alternatively, a full 45-minute break can be replaced by one break of at least 15 minutes followed by another break of at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be distributed over the 4.5-hour period. Breaks of less than 15 minutes will not contribute towards a qualifying break, but neither will they be counted as duty or driving time. The EU rules will only allow a split-break pattern that shows the second period of break being at least 30 minutes, such as in the following examples:

driver split breaks

A new 4.5 hours driving period start if the driver has takes a 45-minute break (or qualifying breaks totaling 45 minutes) before or at the end of a 4.5 hour driving period. This means that the next 4.5 hour driving period begins with the completion of that qualifying break, and in assessing break requirements for the new 4.5-hour period, no reference is to be made to driving time accumulated before this point. For example:

driver split breaks


Daily Rest Periods
A driver must take a daily rest period within each period of 24 hours after the end of the previous daily or weekly rest period. An 11- hour (or more) daily rest is called a regular daily rest period.

24 hour rest period regular

A driver may reduce his daily rest period to no less than 9 continuous hours, but this can be done no more than three times between any two weekly rest periods;and no compensation for the reduction is required. A daily rest that is less than 11 hours but at least 9 hours long is called a reduced daily rest period.

24 hour rest period reduced

Alternatively, a driver can split a regular daily rest period into two periods. The first period must be at least 3 hours of uninterrupted rest and can be taken at any time during the day. The second must be at least 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, giving a total minimum rest of 12 hours; for example:

24 hour rest period split


When a daily rest is taken, this may be taken in a vehicle, as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

To summaries, a driver who begins work at 06.00 on day 1 must, by 06.00 on day 2 at the latest, have completed either:

1 – a regular daily rest period of at least 11 hours; (A continuous period of at least 11 hours’ rest.) or
2 – a split regular daily rest period of at least 12 hours; (A regular rest taken in two separate periods – the first at least 3 hours, and the second at least 9 hours.) or
3 – if entitled, a reduced daily rest period of at least 9 hours. (A continuous rest period of at least 9 hours but less than 11 hours.)


Rules for Transport by Ferryboat or Train

If a vehicle covers part of its journey by ferryboat or train, the following rules apply:

1 – The daily rest period may be interrupted, but only twice, allowing the vehicle to be driven on to a ferry and off at the end of the sea crossing. However, this will depend on point 4 below and the length of the ferry crossing
2 – Any interruption in rest must be as short as possible and must exceed no more than 1 hour
3 – Where the rest period is interrupted in this way, the total accumulated rest period must still be 11 hours.
4 – During the rest period, the driver(s) must have access to a bunk or couchette
5 – Time spent on a ferryboat or train which is not treated as daily rest can be treated as a break


Weekly Rest Periods

A driver must start a weekly rest period no later than at the end of six consecutive 24-hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest period.
A regular weekly rest period is a period of at least 45 consecutive hours.

weekly rest period

An actual working week starts at the end of a weekly rest period, and finishes when another weekly rest period is commenced, which may mean that weekly rest is taken in the middle of a fixed (Monday-Sunday) week. This is perfectly acceptable – the working week is not required to be aligned with the ‘fixed’ week defined in the rules, provided all the relevant limits are complied with.
Alternatively, a driver can take a reduced weekly rest period of a minimum of 24 consecutive hours. If a reduction is taken, it must be compensated for by an equivalent period of rest taken in one block before the end of the third week following the week in question. The compensating rest must be attached to a period of rest of at least 9 hours – in effect either a weekly or a daily rest period.

For example, where a driver reduces a weekly rest period to 33 hours in week 1, he/she must compensate for this by attaching a 12-hour period of rest to another rest period of at least 9 hours before the end of week 4, before the end of the third week. This compensation cannot be taken in several smaller periods. (See example below.)

weekly rest perio plus compensation

A regular weekly rest is a period of uninterrupted rest of at least 45 hours’ duration.

A reduced weekly rest is a uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 but less than 45 hours’ duration.

In any two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks a driver must take at least:

1 – two regular weekly rests; or
2 – one regular weekly rest and one reduced weekly rest.

The following tables are examples of how a driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly rest, which allow two reduced weekly rest periods to be taken consecutively. This complies with the rules because at least one regular and one reduced weekly rest period have been taken in two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks.

weekly rest period plus compensation

The following table is an example of how the driver’s duties might be organised in compliance with the rules on weekly rest, whereby one reduced weekly rest period may be taken in any period of two consecutive weeks under ‘normal’ circumstances.

weekly rest period plus compensation

A weekly rest period that falls in two weeks may be counted in either week but not in both. However, a rest period of at least 69 hours in total may be counted as two back-to-back weekly rests (e.g. a 45-hour weekly rest followed by 24 hours), provided that the driver does not exceed 144 hours’ work either before or after the rest period in question.

Where reduced weekly rest periods are taken away from base, these may be taken in a vehicle, provided that it has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.

Note: Operators who utilise a cyclical shift pattern should take care that their shift patterns allow for compliance with the rolling two-weekly requirements for weekly rest and compensation.


Double Manned Vehicles

‘Multi-manning’ is the situation where, during each period of driving between any two consecutive daily rest periods, or between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period, there are at least two drivers in the vehicle to do the driving. For the first hour of multi-manning the presence of another driver or drivers is optional, but for the remainder of the period it is compulsory. This allows for a vehicle to depart from its operating centre and collect a second driver along the way, providing that this is done within 1 hour of the first driver starting work.

If these strict conditions cannot be complied with, then drivers sharing duties on a journey will individually be governed by single manning rules and will not be able to use the following variation to the daily rest requirement – where a vehicle is manned by two or more drivers, each driver must have a daily rest period of at least 9 consecutive hours within the 30-hour period that starts at the end of the last daily or weekly rest period.
Organising drivers’ duties and incorporating this concession enables a crew’s duties to be spread over 21 hours. This is an example of how the duties of a two-man crew could be organised to take maximum advantage of multi-manning rules:

Double Manned Vehicles

The maximum driving time for a two-man crew taking advantage of this concession is 20 hours before a daily rest is required (although only if both drivers are entitled to drive 10 hours).

Under multi-manning, the ‘second’ driver in a crew may not necessarily be the same driver for the duration of the first driver’s shift but could in principle be any number of drivers as long as the conditions are met. Whether these second drivers could claim the multi-manning concession in these circumstances would depend on their other duties.

On a multi-manning operation the first 45 minutes of a period of availability will be considered to be a break, so long as the co-driver does no work.


Travelling Time

Where a vehicle coming within the scope of the EU rules is neither at the driver’s home nor at the employer’s operational yard where the driver is normally based but is at a separate location, time spent travelling to or from that location to take charge of the vehicle may not be counted as a rest or break, unless the driver is in a ferry or train and has access to a bunk or couchette.

Unforeseen events

Provided that road safety is not jeopardised, and to enable a driver to reach a suitable stopping place, a departure from the EU rules may be permitted to the extent necessary to ensure the safety of persons, the vehicle or its load. Drivers must note all the reasons for doing so on the back of their tachograph record sheets (if using an analogue tachograph) or on a printout or temporary sheet (if using a digital tachograph) at the latest on reaching the suitable stopping place (see relevant sections covering manual entries). Repeated and regular occurrences, however, might indicate to enforcement officers that employers were not in fact scheduling work to enable compliance with the applicable rules.