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.

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.
  • 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

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 21 days) and vehicle units (at least every 90 days) and save this information for one year. The downloaded 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.
  • If you are in an exempted category, you do not need to activate or calibrate your tachograph, it will simply be connected to other on-board units.

Prosecutions

The RSA is responsible for enforcing EU and national transport legislation on tachographs, EU driver hour rules, Road transport working time directive and the licensing of road haulage and passenger operators to engage in hire and reward operations. 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

Forms of attestation

In Ireland and other jurisdictions covered by the EU rules on drivers’ hours, you must account for any gaps in driving-time records that arise from sick leave, annual leave or periods spent driving a vehicle that is not covered by the EU regulation governing driver hours (561/2006).

Gaps must be accounted for by completing a ‘Form of attestation’ (see download below), which is recognised in all EU member states. You must fill in the form before starting a journey after the gap in records. The form must be signed by the truck/bus operator and driver.

For self-employed drivers, the driver signs once as the company representative and once as the driver. The form may not be pre-signed nor may it be changed by handwriting statements.

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