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Driving times and breaks for school trips

Van driving on highway.

Here is guidance for teachers or other adults driving vehicles on school trips.

Drivers should ensure they take regular rest breaks when taking school students on long-distance trips, such as sports exchanges or school camps.

As a rule of thumb, drivers should aim for the equivalent of a 5-10 minute stop every 60 minutes of drive time. To find suitable stops, it's okay to drive a little longer for the first 2-3 hours of driving. But after 4 hours, make the driving time between stops about 45 minutes.

The driver should not try to push through when they display early warning signs of serious tiredness, such as yawning more than usual or finding it hard to keep their eyes open.

In these cases, the driver should stop and swap with another suitable driver if available or take a 15-20 minute nap to provide some alertness before continuing to drive. Please note this is only a short-term solution – the only way to recover from fatigue is to get enough good-quality sleep.

It is also important for schools to understand the concept of work time and not just calculate driving times in isolation. Time spent working in other duties before the drive contributes to the equation in term of fatigue.

As well,

  • A driver should not exceed 5 and 1/2 hours of continuous work time (this includes driving and non-driving duties); without taking a rest break of at least 30 minutes; and
  • A driver should not exceed 13 hours of work time in any cumulative work day (defined as a 24 hour period starting after a continuous rest of at least 10 hours);
  • A driver should have at least 10 hours of continuous rest in any cumulative work day.

Also remember:

Teachers need a full drivers licence, the vehicle needs to be in a roadworthy condition at the time and it must display a current WOF. Appropriate seat belts (or restraints if under the age of seven) need to be worn by the driver and each passenger.

Find out more about fatigue and driving here:

Fatigue (Waka Kotahi main website)(external link)

Please note: this article provides guidance only. It is not a legal document.

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