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Would your business cope with a £3,000 fine and a driving ban?

Would your business cope with a driving ban?

Because that’s what could happen if you don’t understand and obey the regulations surrounding tachographs.

A tachograph is a clever little device fitted to your vehicle which automatically records driving time, speed and distance. It’s used to make sure that drivers are following regulations on GB drivers' hours (which you’ll find out more about below). 

If the combined weight of your business vehicle and trailer is more than 3.5 tonnes, you are legally required to record your driving time, your speed and the distances that you drive, unless you always operate within a 100km radius of your base and never exceed four hours on a journey. If that’s the case then you can record your driving time by using a record sheet (and you don’t need a tachograph).

You should be aware that failing to record your driving hours will invalidate your insurance.

Exemptions from tachograph rules

 Recent legal changes mean that certain vehicles are exempt from tachograph regulations:

  • Vehicles used for the carriage of goods where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle, including any trailer or semi-trailer, does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.
  • Vehicles transporting circus and fun-fair equipment. Unfortunately, mobile caterers generally can’t claim this exemption, unless you’re a member of the Showman’s Guild, your vehicle is registered as such and you can prove that the vehicle is taxed as such.
  • Vehicles used for non-commercial carriage of goods for personal use.

There are several more exemptions but these are the only ones that could be applied to a normal catering business. And whether you’re exempt from tachograph regulations or not, you do always need to comply with GB domestic drivers’ hours rules.

Exemptions from tachograph rules
GB Driving hours in the UK (Transport Act 1968)

 If a court finds you guilty of breaking GB drivers' hours rules, you may face a heavy fine or even imprisonment. Here are the most important rules regarding the daily driving limit:


  • You mustn't drive for over10 hours on a public road in a single day

  • You can’t be on duty for over11 hoursin a working day 

  • You’reexemptfrom the daily driving limit on working dayswhen you do not drive

  • You must record your hours on a weekly record sheet or on a tachograph

 And what you need to know about breaks and continuous driving:


  • You must take a rest of at least 30 minutes every 5 hours 30 minutes (obviously you can take more breaks than that)

  • If you drive for any period of 8 hours 30 minutes, you must take at least 45 minutes in breaks and have a break of at least 30 minutes at the end of the 8 hours 30 minutes period (unless it’s the end of the working day)

There are also important rules to ensure your employees get enough rest between shifts:

  • You can’t work for more than 16 hours between the times of starting and finishing a shift (including non-driving time)

  • You must take a rest of 10 hours before the first shift and immediately after the last shift in a working week

  • You must rest for 10 hours between two working days

  • All shifts must start and finish within a 24 hour period

  • Every two weeks you must take at least one period of 24 hours off duty

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