Our website uses cookies to give you a better browsing experience, and by using our site you accept our cookies policy


Tachograph Data Download Procedures

Following the correct procedures when downloading data from digital tachographs is crucial for maintaining compliance with UK and EU regulations concerning drivers’ hours and rest periods. Here’s a simple guide to assist transport managers in navigating this task.

Understanding Tachograph Data

Both digital and smart tachographs store data regarding the driver and vehicle’s activity; both in the device and separately on each driver’s individual smart card. Transport businesses are required to download data from the tachograph every 90 days, and every 28 days from driver cards, in order to analyse the information and check legal compliance.

Preparing for Data Download

Before you’re able to begin downloading data, there are some steps you need to take first:

  • Ignition Activation: The vehicle’s ignition needs to be activated; however, certain vehicles may require just having the battery lights on.
  • Company Card Insertion: Next, your company card should be carefully inserted into slot 1 of the tachograph unit. After insertion, pause briefly to allow the company name to load up on the display.
  • Starting Download: The data download process starts by inserting a designated download tool into the tachograph unit. This tool interfaces with the tachograph to allow data extraction to begin.
  • Data Transfer: A specialised Vehicle Unit (VU) download device is used for this step, which when connected to the vehicle unit, seamlessly transfers the stored vehicle data onto a portable storage medium like a memory stick.
  • Data Analysis: Fleet managers typically use tachograph analysis software for this task, which checks for any infringement of data download laws, and ensures that everything with the legal stipulations regarding drivers’ hours and operations.

Compliance Check

This is a vital part of this process, as it scrutinises the downloaded data to ascertain legal compliance as per the UK and EU regulations. Furthermore, it’s imperative to make the data readily available for download by enforcement authorities whenever required.


It’s wise to maintain a meticulous record of all data downloads and analyses conducted, as it serves as a robust audit trail during inspections or audits, showcasing your adherence to legal mandates.

Another prudent step would be to familiarise both yourself and your drivers with the tachograph unit’s user manual. Particular attention should be paid to understanding how to select the ‘out-of-scope’ option when driving on journeys that are not in the scope of EU/AETR rules.

Following the steps detailed above will ensure you manage your tachograph data smoothly, giving you the peace of mind that you’re operating compliantly and, by extension, promoting road safety.

About the author

Jonathan Gilder

Jonathan Gilder

Head of Training and Transport
Jonathan is a distinguished NRI HGV Instructor accredited by RTITB, with certifications in IOSH Managing Safely, RTITB Lift Truck Instruction, and ROSPA Assured PAT Testing. His expertise extends to EdI Level 3 NVQ Assessing, Btec Level 2 in Transportation of Goods by Road, and he is a skilled Trainer in Driver CPC and Incident Investigation from GH Safety.

Want to find out more?

Click “Get in touch” or give us a call on 0330 818 8888
and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.