Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 provides a common set of EU rules for maximum daily and fortnightly driving times, as well as daily and weekly minimum rest periods for all drivers of road haulage and passenger transport vehicles, subject to specified exceptions and national derogations. The scope of operations regulated is tremendously diverse, it includes: passenger transport and road haulage operations, both international and national, long and short distance, drivers for own account and for hire and reward, employees and self-employed.
The aim of this set of rules is to avoid distortion of competition, improve road safety and ensure drivers' good working conditions within the European Union.
These rules establish notably that:
- Daily driving period shall not exceed 9 hours, with an exemption of twice a week when it can be extended to 10 hours.
- Total weekly driving time may not exceed 56 hours and the total fortnightly driving time may not exceed 90 hours.
- Daily rest period shall be at least 11 hours, with an exception of going down to 9 hours maximum three times a week. Daily rest can be split into 3 hours rest followed by 9 hour rest to make a total of 12 hours daily rest.
- Breaks of at least 45 minutes (separable into 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes) should be taken after 4 ½ hours at the latest.
- Weekly rest is 45 continuous hours, which can be reduced every second week to 24 hours. Compensation arrangements apply for reduced weekly rest period. Weekly rest is to be taken after six days of working, except for coach drivers engaged in a single occasional service of international transport of passengers who may postpone their weekly rest period after 12 days in order to facilitate coach holidays.
- Daily and/or weekly driving times may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances by up to one hour to enable the driver to reach his/her place of residence or the employer’s operational centre in order to take a weekly rest period. Exceeding the daily and/or weekly driving times by up to two hours is also allowed to enable the driver to reach his/her place of residence or the employer’s operational centre in order to take a regular weekly rest period.
The compliance with these provisions is subject to continuous monitoring and controls, which are carried out on national and international level via checking tachograph records at the road side and at the premises of undertakings.
National exceptions from drivers' hours rules
Article 13 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 sets out a list of possible national derogations from application of provisions on driving times, breaks and rest periods (Articles 5 to 9 of the Regulation). It is within the competence of each Member States to decide whether any of the listed possible national derogations will be granted or not.
Article 14 of the Regulation lays down that Member States may grant, in urgent cases, exceptions from the application of Articles 6 to 9 for up to 30 days to transport operations carried out in exceptional circumstances. This table gives an overview of all recent temporary national exceptions notified by the Member States to the Commission in accordance with Article 14.
The Court of Justice of the European Union judgements concerning social rules in road transport
Certain Court judgments under earlier legislation which has been repealed remain relevant as interpretative guidance on key provisions carried over into the current legislation. However, the relevance of Court rulings for the application and interpretation of Regulation 561/2006 should be assessed on a case by case basis.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85