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.

tachograph
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.

Conclusion.

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.

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