Drivers’ hours and tachographs•The rules on EU drivers’ hours and tachographs exist to govern the driving hours and rest periods of drivers who drive commercial goods vehicles, which can include some vehiclees •You do not have to conform to these rules if you drive a vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight for personal use •Like operator licensing, EU drivers’ hours and tachographs are not intended to cover most people whose equestrian activities are no more than leisure pursuits •Vehicle drivers who are governed by the rules must be able to •ensure minimum weekly rest periods are taken.Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes, or vehicle and trailer combinations with a gross train weight of more than 3.5 tonnes when used in connection with the carriage of goods or burden, are required to have tachographs fitted, and the drivers are required to adhere to the EU Drivers’ Hours Rules. However, there are several exemptions which apply to specific types of operation.Prior to the new drivers’ hours legislation coming into force in April 2007, the old legislation exempted all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, whilst being used for personal use, from the requirement to use tachographs and adhere to EU drivers’ hours rules. This meant that drivers of all non-commercial vehicles could work Monday to Friday and transport their horses at the weekends without regard to weekly rest periods.In April 2007, the European Union introduced a new piece of legislation on drivers’ hours which also included the exemption for personal use, but made it more restrictive in that the non-commercial element of that provision only now extends to vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. Consequently, all drivers of vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes need to adhere to the rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs.For vehicles or vehicle and trailer combinations with a gross or train weight of more than 3.5 tonnes and up to 7.5 tonnes, tachographs are not required to be fitted and the EU Drivers’ Hours rules don’t apply when that vehicle or vehicle combination is used on a non-commercial basis. When deciding whether or not a vehicle is legitimately used non-commercially, we must apply the same criteria as we do for the application of goods vehicle operator licensing – is the vehicle used for hire or reward or in connection with a trade or business?Where a person drives a vehicle which is in scope of the EU drivers’ hours rules, not only do the rules apply for the whole of that day, they must also abide by the rules on weekly rest for that week – this has always been the case. From a very basic perspective, the EU rules require a driver to take a weekly rest period of at least 45 hours – that is an uninterrupted period which is legally referred to as a “regular weekly rest period”. There are however, various other rules which mean that a weekly rest period needn’t always be at least 45 hours, and these are explained later. So, for anyone who works full-time during the week and drives a vehicle which is in scope of the drivers’ hours rules at the weekend, the hours they spend driving that vehicle at the weekend may be restricted. If that person started work at 09:00 on a Monday morning for example, they would need to have completed any in-scope driving by 12:00 on the previous Saturday in order to fit in the required 45-hour rest period.However, that same person can legally take a reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours once every other week on condition that the reduction is paid back within three weeks. That being the case, it would be acceptable for a full time worker to use a vehicle up until 09:00 on the Sunday prior to starting work on the Monday. It’s important to realise that reductions can’t be taken in any two consecutive weeks, and that any reduction must be compensated by an equivalent period taken all at once before the end of the third week following the reduction.For example, where a driver reduces a weekly rest period to 33 hours in week 1, he 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. This compensation cannot be taken in several smaller periods.Weekly driving limitThe maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours, which applies to a fixed week. A fixed week starts at 00.00 on Monday and ends at 24.00 on the following Sunday.The rules on weekly rest are summarised as follows;•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.•In any two consecutive ‘fixed’ weeks a driver must take at least two regular weekly rest periods, or one regular and one reduced rest period.•A regular weekly rest period is a period of at least 45 consecutive hours.•A reduced weekly rest period is a period of at least 24 consecutive hours, but less than 45 hours.•If a reduced rest is taken, the reduction must be compensated by an equivalent period taken in one block before the end of the third week following the week in question.•A fixed week is the period 00:00 hours on Monday until 24:00 hours on Sunday.•The working week is not required to be aligned with the fixed week – midweek weekly rest periods are perfectly acceptable.•A weekly rest period which falls over two fixed weeks may be counted in either but not both.By way of an example, if a vehicle in excess of 7.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight is driven on a Saturday following a week working in an office, then that driver must ensure that a weekly rest is taken in line with the EU rules before the end of the week. Although the rules on weekly rest say that 45 continuous hours must be taken, this can be reduced lawfully to 24 hours under many circumstances which affect occasional drivers, thus permitting the above example. What wouldn’t be possible is the same person driving a vehicle on a Sunday, as there would be insufficient time remaining to take even a reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours.