Ever wondered, when looking at how long a coach journey will take, especially if you're planning a trip to Europe, how on earth the coach driver is going to cope with a journey of that length without keeling over from exhaustion? Wonder no more as we take a look at the ins and outs of coach driver hours!

Coach drivers must only work a set number of hours and are paid for the hours they work, like the majority of us. However, what many people are unaware of is that there are drivers' hours rules which determine daily driving time and daily rest periods, and it’s a similar situation to that of airline pilots.

And why’s that? Well, to put it simply, it’s because of you, the passenger. It’s about your safety when travelling aboard a coach driven by your driver, a human being who gets tired the longer they work, just like the rest of us. It’s also about the safety of other road users and passengers who share the road with coaches and minibuses too.

So, when you’re travelling from A to B, you want to relax in your seat, resting assured in the knowledge that your journey is going to be safely and professionally carried out to your satisfaction.

The rules and regulations that govern the number of hours that coach drivers in the UK are allowed to travel are enshrined in law by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and are dependent on a number of factors.

These are as follows:

  • the number of passenger seats,

  • how far you’re driving (the distance of your route from A to B),

  • if you’re driving to or from another country,

  • if you’re driving on a regular or non-regular service.*

*For clarity, a "regular service" is a specified local bus route with stopping points for passengers to get off, rather than a long-distance coach journey.

From there, it gets a little more complex. But, essentially, the rules are there to ensure that drivers get enough rest between driving duties. The Government website defines these driving duties as “being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement, whether it is moving or stationary with the engine running, even for a short period of time.”

You may not be aware of this, but being “stationary with the engine running” includes being stuck in traffic! Even though the coach isn’t moving, or is only crawling along sluggishly when the traffic allows it to, the driver is still on the clock and needs to stay focused behind the wheel.

Adequate rest is required for safety on the road

During these driving duties, coach drivers are required to take breaks to rest, refresh, and recharge. The coach driver is not permitted to work during this time, and how much break time they are entitled to depends on how many hours they will be working that day.

So, while on the road, coach drivers are able to take a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than 4 hours and 30 minutes of driving. Those rest stops at service stations or beauty spots aren’t just for passengers to stretch their legs and go to the loo; they’re a legally required part of the coach driver’s working day!

On top of that, a coach driver must not work for any longer than 9 hours in one day, 56 hours in one week, or 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks. The coach driver must take a minimum of 11 hours of rest per day and an unbroken rest period of 45 hours in a week.

So, of course, if a coach driver is taking you, your family, or friends on a coach trip from the UK to Europe that involves an overnight stop, they will need to get adequate rest at the end of the day to recharge for driving in the morning. If it’s a package excursion, the likelihood is that they’ll be staying in the same hotel as you, and will need to get a continuous and uninterrupted rest there, so that they’re ready and raring to go the following day.

With the required hours of rest in the bank and feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep (not to mention a delicious breakfast from the hotel restaurant, which always helps!), your driver is then legally ready to take you on your way.

Solid, safe and dependable driving from Readybus

At Readybus, we care passionately about getting everything just right, and that goes for our drivers too. Of course, the safety and comfort of you, our passengers, is our number one priority here at Readybus. Our drivers are experienced, reliable, and trustworthy, and they work hard to ensure that every minute of every journey is completed safely and in style.

Every member of our coach team is fully qualified with the required licences and qualifications: each one holds a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC), the national standard. By law, coach drivers are required to take 35 hours of training every 5 years to keep this licence, and we ensure that every member of our coach driving team is on top of their legal obligations.

And they’re not solely trained to drive safely; every Readybus coach driver is friendly and helpful too, with great customer service skills to make every journey an enjoyable and memorable one.

In fact, a coach driver job with Readybus comes with great pay and associated benefits – not to mention terrific job satisfaction.

If you’re looking for a coach driver job in London and the South East, then we’d love to hear from you. You can find out more here.