This section should be looked at in conjunction with driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is a major cause of fatal crashes and commercial heavy vehicle drivers are at particular risk. That’s why most commercial drivers are required by law to limit total hours worked, take regular breaks and keep records in the form of logbooks.

Driver fatigue

Work time requirements

Work time applies to anyone legally required to manage driving hours, including transport service operators and drivers, organisations that employ or contract drivers and transport logistics companies.

Work time is time spent performing work-related duties, including driving vehicles, loading and unloading vehicles, maintaining and cleaning vehicles, administration or recording and any other paid employment.

In general, drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after 5½ hours of work time.

However, if you are a small passenger service vehicle driver doing short fares* around a city or town, you must take a rest break of 30 minutes after 7 hours of continuous work time. During rest time, the small passenger service vehicle driver must not be available for hire and therefore must not park on an area designated for use by small passenger service vehicles.

*A small passenger service vehicle is any passenger service vehicle that is designed or adapted to carry 12 persons or less, including the driver. A short fare means a single hire, where the distance driven between where the passenger is picked up and set down is less than 100 kilometres.

After 13 hours

In any cumulative work day (legally defined as no more than 24 hours), drivers can work a maximum of 13 hours and must then take a break of at least 10 hours (as well as the standard half-hour breaks required every 5½ hours).


Many drivers of heavy motor vehicles have to operate to a timetable.

Always ensure that you plan your trip so that you don’t have to speed.

If you are under pressure to meet your timetable, contact your employer.

Below is an example of how this might work if you worked the maximum number of hours allowed each cumulative work day.

Example of a cumulative work day

After 70 hours

Drivers can accumulate work time of up to 70 hours before they must take a break of at least 24 hours. The time between one 24-hour break and the next is legally described as a ‘cumulative work period’. A cumulative work period will be made up of a collection of cumulative work days, where drivers have taken the necessary breaks to meet their work time requirements.

Chain of responsibility

If you employ or control drivers who are subject to work time requirements and you knew, or should have known, that a driver under your control did, or was likely to, breach work time provisions, you could face fines of up to $25,000 if convicted.

Delays due to unforeseen circumstances

Special provisions cover situations where drivers are prevented from completing their journey within work time limits due to an unforeseen situation or an emergency.

Three situations are specified as emergency events:

  • a civil defence emergency
  • an incident attended by an emergency service
  • urgent action to save life or prevent injury.

If you are delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, this must be recorded in your logbook.

Emergency and essential drivers

The law allows emergency and essential service workers to exceed work time limits in some circumstances. In addition, volunteer fire fighters and volunteer ambulance drivers are not subject to work time limits when they undertake priority calls. For more information, see the Transport Agency publication Work time and logbooks or check the Land Transport Rule: Work Time and Logbooks 2007.

Logbook requirements

Logbooks provide a written record of your work time hours and can be checked to confirm you are meeting work time requirements.

You must produce your logbook for an enforcement officer to inspect, if requested.

How do I fill in the logbook form?

When you are filling in a new logbook form, you need to complete:

  • your name
  • the date the logbook page starts on
  • the registration number of the vehicle and the start and finish distance recorder readings (if the vehicle you are driving is subject to road user charges)
  • the start and finish times and the location for all your work time hours
  • the start and finish times for all your rest breaks and where you took them.

If you are using the general logbook form, then you also need to complete the activity grid.

Logbook entries are required for the period between one 24-hour break and the next (cumulative work period – up to 70 hours of work time).

If you experience a delay that causes or is likely to cause the work time limits for a cumulative work day or cumulative work period to be exceeded, you need to note the event and the length of the delay in your logbook. (This can then be produced in your defence should you be prosecuted for exceeding work time limits.)

Logbook exemptions

Some drivers are exempt from keeping logbooks (these drivers must still meet work time requirements), for example, drivers of vehicles operated by the armed services, police, fire or ambulance services, vehicle recovery services, urban bus services. For more information see the Transport Agency publication Work time and logbooks or check the Land Transport Rule: Work Time and Logbooks 2007.

Driver responsibilities

Drivers must:

  • keep only one logbook at a time
  • ensure information recorded is complete, correct and readable
  • make sure your employer receives the ‘record’ copy of your logbook entry within 14 days of completing that record
  • retain the logbook for at least 12 months after the date of the last entry.

Employer responsibilities

Employers must:

  • retain copies of logbook records for at least 12 months after the record was made
  • ensure that drivers meet their responsibilities as outlined above.

If you employ drivers, or are an owner-operator, you are also required to keep fuel and accommodation receipts that can be produced on demand by an enforcement officer. You are also required to keep a range of employment records.

Commercial driving information for employers

What happens if I don’t meet the requirements?

If a driver fails to produce a logbook to an enforcement officer on demand, they could face a maximum fine of $2000. They will also incur 35 demerit points on their personal driver licence.

An employer who does not take reasonable steps to ensure drivers comply with their legal responsibilities or appropriate action to remedy omissions or false entries can be fined up to $25,000.


If the vehicle you’re driving develops a fault, you should take action to ensure the fault is fixed as soon as possible. If you drive for a company, you must report the fault in writing to the appropriate person (in line with company procedures). If the fault affects the safe handling of the vehicle, it must not be driven until the fault is fixed.