The Six-Hour Rule, How You Can Avoid An Infringement.

Infringements Can Occur Easily.

If you don’t keep an eye on the six-hour rule, you can easily incur an infringement without even realising it until you down-load your card, and by then it would be too late.

Do not rely on the tachograph unit in the vehicle to keep an eye on your driving hours, breaks, rest periods etc, because it won’t. The only thing that it will tell you is when you are approaching four and a half hours of continuous driving, it will start to flash when you have fifteen minutes driving time left.

A digital tachograph unit.

The Six-Hour Rule.

The most common infringement that catches drivers out is breaking the six-hour rule, drivers seem to forget that it applies every six hours of the working day, for example; if you start your duty at 06:00hrs then you need to take a break of at least 30 minutes before you have completed six hours work, or if you have reached 4.5hrs driving time before you have done 6hrs you then need to have a 45-minute break.

Once you have had your break, you will then be entering a new six hour period as the six-hour period will start over from the time your break has finished.

Example: if you started work at 06:00, then did 15 mins other work and started your drive at 06:15hrs, drove for 3hrs until 09:15hrs then you did another 2hrs other work, it would now be 11:15hrs.

Even though you would have another 1hr and 30 minutes driving time left before you reached 4.5hrs driving time, you would need to stop before 12:00hrs and take at least 30minutes rest, ideally, it would be best if you took your break from 11:15hrs and had 45 minutes.

You can also extend the six hour period to nine hours by having a fifteen minute break before the six hours is reached, but you must then take at least a half hour break beafore reaching nine hours of duty time, making a total of 45 minutes rest in a nine hour period.

Second Six-Hour Period.

When you have had your 45 minutes break, you need to remember the time that your break ended, in this scenario, it would be 12:00hrs, because now you are entering a second six-hour period and you will need to either be finished work for the day or you will need another break of at least 30 minutes before 18:00hrs.

The six-hour rule applies every six hours and in most cases twice a day as in the scenario above, and this where drivers are being caught out and falling foul of the six-hour rule and are incurring an infringement without even realising.

Modern Trucks.

Some modern trucks will tell you more about your driving hours than older trucks as shown in the image below taken from a 2018 Renault T Range dashboard.

Renault T Range dashboard showing accumulated driving time, does not show the six-hour rule.
The dash of a Renault T Range truck.

In the image above you can see the total drive period for the day is 8 hours and twenty six minutes, the drive since last break is 4 hours and 11 minutes and the total drive for one week is 34 hours and seventeen minutes and the total drive for a two week period is also 34 hours and seventeen minutes, meaning that the driver was probably off work the week before.

Also, you can see the total distance covered in the two week period. This information window does not show the six-hour rule, it is down to you to remember your six-hour working periods.

In the image below you can see the total drive time for each day and also the total daily rest time showing reduced daily rest in red.

tachograph log

The display in the T range is very useful to the driver and will help him or her stay within the rules, some other makes of trucks are not as comprehensive such as in the Mercedes Actros in the image below.

Mercedes_Actros-Tachograph -Info
The dashboard of a Mercedes Actros.

All that you can see here is the total drive period since last break, the total for the day and the week. It also shows how much break the driver has had if using a split break, there is none showing here.


To avoid gaining an infringement for the six-hour rule, you need to remember the exact time that you started your shift and the exact time that you finished your break and you also need to plan ahead and figure out where in the day you need to take your breaks so you can maximise your time and avoid infringements.


Tachograph Analytics, and What You Need To Know About Yours.

Transport companies use a tachograph analytics program for analysing your tachograph data, but most of them will not let you see it until you ask to see it, or you have been unfortunate enough to incur an infringement.

Tachograph Analytics
A monthly tachograph calendar as shown in Tachomaster.

Limited Information.

The digital tachograph unit that is fitted in your vehicle will give you limited information such as a fifteen-minute warning when you are approaching the end of a four and a half hour driving period, and it will also let you know when you are getting near to the end of a ten-hour driving day.

It can also tell you other data from your card, such as how many driving hours you have done in the past fortnight, but what it is unable to tell you is your average working week hours, the six-hour rule, the total driving hours for each day that you have worked and the total time that you have left in the current week.

Tachograph information showing extended days, reduced rest, weekly and fortnightly driving totals in Tachomaster.

Removing Your Digi Card.

Once you have removed your Digi card from the vehicle unit, you are then unable to see the data that has been collected on the card until your card has been downloaded into your companies tachograph analytics program, and then you are still unable to see your data unless you request to see it.

Some companies make it difficult for you to see your tachograph data even after you have put in a request to see it.

So how are you supposed to keep a track on your driving hours, working hours, average working time, working time directive etc? Most companies will not let you see this until you have actually incurred an infringement and by that time it is too late.

For an example the average working week limit is 48hrs, but how can you know when you are approaching the limit? You wont know until you have breached it and your transport manager wants to see you about it.

Average Drive Time
Average work time as shown in Tachomaster.

It is far better to know that you are approaching 48hrs average working week and then you can do something about it, such as cut down on your hours at work, so you do not breach the 48hrs rule in the first place.

That is where having your own tachograph analytics program, such as Tachcomaster, comes in handy, you are able to see the same data that your company can, but you can see it in real-time as it is happening, so you if you have incurred an infringement you will know long before your transport manager will want to see you.

Incurring An Infringement.

Some companies will want to see you about an infringement and will ask you to sign a letter confirming that you have acknowledged the infringement, have understood how it occurred and have had further training to prevent it happening again in the future.

If you are not seen about an infringement as soon as possible after it has happened, ie; the next day, (some companies leave it weeks or months to come and see you), you would most likely not be able to recall in your memory how it happened and could have incurred more of the same infringements in that time.

The infringement letter is then placed on your record and if you collect enough of them it may well be curtains for you.

Keeping Your Own Records.

For a one-off initial purchase of a card reader and a small weekly fee of £1.00 plus the VAT, (billed monthly) you can keep an eye on your driving hours using Tachomaster.

This is a very handy program to have if you are an agency driver, and also will come in handy as it will keep a record of all the different vehicles that you have driven, and the times that you were driving them.

A typical day showing driving times and vehicle used in Tachomaster.

It is proof that should a traffic offence occur, ie; the vehicle was flashed by a speed camera, that you were, or were not, the driver of that vehicle at that time.

In Tachomaster you can also see your weekly and monthly rest report and are able to see if you have had any reduced rest periods. You can also see if you have compensated them properly as shown in the calendar below.

Rest day calender
Rest day calender as shown in Tachomaster.

As you can see having a tachograph analytics program is a valuable tool in helping you as a driver keep on the right side of the law and will help you avoid accumulating tachograph infringements.

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When a Bus lane is Not a Bus Lane!

Bus lanes have time restrictions placed on them that are determined by a sign where the bus lane starts.

A bus lane sign
A bus lane sign showing the operational times.

When you see a bus lane coming up, you should look at the blue sign that is placed at the start, it will have a time stated as in the following examples;

  • 7 to 10 am Mon to Fri
  • 4 to 7 pm Mon to Fri
  • 7 to 10 am Mon to Sat
  • 7 am to 7 pm Mon to Sat

Outside of these times, all vehicles are permitted to use the bus lane, but not a lot of drivers know this and just avoid the bus lane altogether, causing more congestion on the road than necessary. If there are no times stated then it will be a bus lane at all times.

Understanding The Bus lane Sign.

If it says the following on the sign, ‘Bus Lane 7am to 10am Mon to Fri’ then during these times you must not enter the bus lane, but outside of these times it is permitted to be used.

Some drivers try to stop other drivers using the bus lane by encroaching it enough to stop the permitted vehicle from passing, a clear indication that they have either not seen, read or understood the meaning of the bus lane times on the sign.

Bus lane
A bus lane clearly marked.

Of course you may see someone using the bus lane during the times when the bus lane is being enforced, and these type of drivers are clearly lawbreakers, they will get caught one day. Most bus lanes have ANPR cameras, and now some buses have cameras fitted in order to catch bus lane offenders.

Using The Bus Lane.

I can remember a few years ago I was heading out of town on the A3 East Hill Road, approaching the Wandsworth one way system, there was a line of about 15 cars stopped leading up to a set of red traffic lights, but to the left of the line of cars, was an empty bus lane.

It clearly said on the sign at the start of the bus lane, 7 to 10 am and 4 to 7 pm Mon to Sat, and as it was a Saturday at around 1 pm, I decided to enter the bus lane and pass the line of cars.

One driver saw me doing this and did not like it, as he thought I was jumping the queue, he took the law into his own hands and tried to stop me by blocking the bus lane slightly, after a bit of an altercation with my horn, he moved out of the way, he couldn’t have seen or even read the sign at the start of the bus lane.

I just hope that he went back to read the sign and then was able to understand that, at that time, the bus lane was not a bus lane at all and could be used by all vehicles.

Keeping Your Wits.

You need to keep your wits about you though, as some bus lanes have varying times on them, for example, at the start of a bus lane the sign may say that it is a bus lane at 7 to 10 am Mon to Sat, but further along the same road, this could change to being a bus lane 7 am to 7 pm Mon to Fri.

This might catch some drivers out, and some people reading this may say that the council have designed this in order to make money from fining drivers, but if you stay alert and look at the bus lane signs you should avoid being caught using the bus lane when it is in force.

Some bus lanes even permit goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to use them, and one such lane can be found on the A23 Farthing Way near to Coulsdon, Surrey.

When permitted, I use the bus lane all the time, and I have never received a fine in all my years of driving.

Have you ever been caught using a bus lane, or do you not use them at all, cursing at drivers that do use them, because you don’t realise that they are permitted to? If so, I would like to hear about what happened to you, so please leave a comment in the box below.