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.

Reminder: temporary relaxation from certain provisions of EU driving and resting time rules due to Customs and SPS checks at Dublin and Rosslare ports expires on 30 Jan 2020

The temporary derogation from certain rules concerning the driving and resting times for drivers of commercial vehicles will expire at 23:59 on 30 January.

From 31 January, operators and drivers must comply with the normal rules applicable to driving and resting times for drivers of commercial vehicles.

The Department of Transport and the RSA will maintain contacts with the road haulage representative associations and will continue to monitor on-going developments relating to any further exceptional measures that may be required in respect of the EU drivers’ hours rules arising from Brexit and the COVID pandemic.

Introduction: The Road Safety Authority (RSA), in consultation with the Department of Transport, has agreed to grant a temporary exception from certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules.  It will apply to all drivers subject to the EU drivers’ hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of goods, when operating on the territory of Ireland.

Coming into effect: The derogation will come into effect from the 1st of January 2021 until the 30th of January 2021. The European Commission has been notified, and the European Commission will in turn notify all other EU Member States of this derogation. The derogation will be reviewed by the RSA on a daily basis from the 1st of January, to ensure that it is appropriate and fit for purpose. The derogation may be modified, as appropriate.

Summary of measures being introduced: The EU drivers’ hours rules ordinarily allow a HGV driver on an international journey by ferry to interrupt his rest period no more than twice for a duration not exceeding one hour in total. The number of interruptions is being increased to three and the duration of these interruptions to a maximum of three hours to assist drivers transporting goods that are subjected to Customs and SPS checks at Dublin or Rosslare ports.  The obligation to take a daily rest period within the 24hour period will be increased to 26 hours.

For HGV drivers on an international journey availing of the “ferry rule” and arriving into Dublin or Rosslare ports but who are not subjected to Customs or SPS checks, the number of interruptions remains the same but the total duration of the two interruptions is being increased from one hour to two hours. The obligation to take a daily rest period within the 24hour period will be increased to 25 hours.

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

Reminder points to note regarding ‘ferry rule’:  In all instances the daily rest period must be commenced no later than twelve hours after the start of the daily working period.

If a driver is taking a reduced weekly rest period it must be started no later than 6x24 hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period.
Reduced daily rest periods: The rules relating to reduced daily rest periods are also being relaxed. Drivers are limited to availing of three reduced daily rest periods of at least nine hours in duration between any two weekly rest periods. This is being increased to five.

Appropriate arrangements must be put in place to record any deviation from the normal rules as provided for in this temporary derogation.

While Brexit may impact on road transport operations, 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 drivers and other road users.

The Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport will also over the coming days and weeks continue to closely monitor the potential impacts of COVID-19 and related restrictions on supply chains. 

For more detailed info on derogation please click here


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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