Life on the Road

The work/life balance of truckers in the US is notoriously unusual: drivers typically spend several weeks or even months out on the road at a time.

While there are some ‘trampers’ in the UK (“long-distance artic drivers away from home for long periods, who routinely sleep in their cabs“), driving for a living in the UK typically involves working locally from a home base, or at most a few nights away from home each week (usually four 12-hour days alternated with four rest days).

Additionally, drivers hours in the UK are governed by EU Drivers Hours Directives, which restrict commercial drivers to drive no more than 9 hours a day (optionally extended up to 10 hours a day twice a week), to a total of no more than 56 hours a week. The equivalent US rules (the Drivers’ Hours of Service (HOS) regulations), give drivers up to 11 hours a day driving time, within a 14 hour period, with no more than 60 hours on duty each week (or, in 7 consecutive days).

In part, these differences are down to the vast size of the country.

Licenced to Drive

Licences for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

US commercial drivers (drivers of large trucks and buses, whether interstate, intrastate or foreign commerce) are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate any CMV weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds, carrying more than 16 passengers or carrying a certain amount of hazardous materials. To acquire a CDL, drivers must pass a skills (driving) test and a knowledge (written) test. A CDL is issued at the state level (typically through your home state) – it’s illegal to have one from more than one state.

The UK operates similar rules for commercial driver licences. To drive a lorry, bus or coach professionally, drivers must complete Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) on top of holding a regular full UK drivers’ licence. To achieve Driver CPC, drivers must pass four tests: theory, case studies, driving ability, and practical demonstration. Driver CPC is awarded and regulated by the DVSA.

Licences for Commercial Vehicle Operators

In the UK, businesses must have a goods vehicle operator’s licence where they operate goods vehicles over a certain weight. The O-Licence (operator licence) is awarded and regulated by the DVSA. To achieve and maintain an O-Licence, operators must comply with regulations around safety and maintenance of vehicles, drivers and loads.

In the US there is no specific licence required for commercial motor carriers, however, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do make it clear that carriers do have a responsibility to uphold standards & regulations:

“The rules… are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce.”

“Every employer shall be knowledgeable of and comply with all regulations… that are applicable to that motor carrier’s operations.”

“[Whenever] a duty is prescribed for a driver or a prohibition is imposed upon the driver, it shall be the duty of the motor carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition.”

Stream Check helps you manage licence requirements by recording the information, details and actions related to every driver, and setting reminders for licence or training renewal dates, in a single screen.