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Knowledge Base

Your Comprehensive Resource on Transport Regulations, Digital Tachographs and Industry Best Practices.

Tachograph FAQ’s

Tachographs are devices that record information about driving time, speed, and distance. They are essential for ensuring compliance with drivers' hours regulations. In the UK, if your vehicle falls under EU or AETR rules, you are required to use a tachograph. There are two types of tachographs: analogue and digital. Digital tachographs are mandatory for all commercial vehicles first registered on or after 1 May 2006. If your vehicle doesn’t fall under EU rules or is exempt, then a tachograph isn't required.
A driver card, often referred to as a 'tacho card', is not the tachograph itself but an essential component of the digital tachograph system. It is used in commercial goods vehicles and passenger vehicles in the UK. Issued by the DVLA, the driver card must be fitted into a vehicle’s tachograph unit. It records the driver's hours of driving and rest times and contains information like the driver’s details and vehicle registration numbers. The data from the driver card is transmitted to the vehicle unit and stored, which can be accessed by enforcement officers and fleet managers.
The tachograph rules for 2023 remain consistent with the established guidelines. Vehicles that fall under EU or AETR rules must use a tachograph. Digital tachographs, required for vehicles registered on or after 1 May 2006, store data on smart cards for later checks. Drivers are expected to comply with regulations regarding record keeping, card usage, and periodic inspections.
In the UK, tachographs are required for commercial goods vehicles (like HGVs) and passenger vehicles (such as buses and coaches) that operate under EU or AETR rules. If your vehicle is exempt from these rules or isn't covered by them, then a tachograph isn't necessary. Remember, all commercial vehicles first registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with digital tachographs.
The tacho one-minute rule, adjusted by the Commission Regulation (EU) N. 1266/2009, addresses the recording of driving time, especially in situations involving frequent and short stops. Previously, any vehicle movement between five and sixty seconds was recorded as an additional minute of driving. The updated rule specifies that every minute is recorded as the dominant activity only if it is the longest activity carried out continuously during that minute (at least 31 seconds). This change allows for a more accurate calculation of total daily driving time, potentially extending it by up to 45 minutes.
Exemptions from using a tachograph include vehicles over 25 years old, minibuses used solely for non-commercial passenger transport, and vehicles used in agricultural, horticultural, farming, fishery, or forestry operations within 100km of their base. Additionally, vehicles transporting live animals for distances less than 50km are also exempt.
The card should not be removed from the tachograph during the working day unless authorised, for reasons such as a change of vehicle or another driver using the vehicle during a break or rest period.
Consequences vary based on the severity and nature of the infringement. Possible actions include verbal warnings, offence rectification notices, prohibitions, fixed penalties and deposits, prosecution, and referral to the Traffic Commissioner. Sanctions can be imposed on drivers, operators, or both, depending on the situation.
Overstepping tacho time is treated similarly to other tachograph rule infringements. Sanctions range from verbal warnings to prosecution, depending on the severity of the offence. The law offers protection in some cases, such as unforeseen delays causing unavoidable breaches.
Driving without a tachograph card is generally not allowed, except in rare situations where the card is irretrievably lost, stolen, or damaged. If you've left your card at home, it must be retrieved before driving. Temporary measures include taking printouts at the start and end of each journey, which need to be available for inspection for up to 28 days.
Overspeeding itself is not specifically mentioned as a tachograph infringement. However, infringements related to driving times, break and rest period rules, failure to use a tachograph correctly, and other related offences can lead to sanctions including fines and potential prosecution.
The 6-hour rule for tachographs mandates that a driver must not work (including both driving and other work) for more than 6 hours straight without taking a break. Before working beyond 6 hours, the driver must have taken at least a 15-minute break. If working between 6 to 9 hours, at least a total of 30 minutes of break is required, which can be taken all at once or in sections. This pattern continues for work beyond 9 hours, with an additional requirement of a further 15 minutes of break.
For private use, a tachograph is generally not required, especially when driving a vehicle that weighs up to 7.5 tonnes for personal journeys. There are exceptions for vehicles of this weight class when used for delivering equipment or materials within a 62-mile radius, provided driving is not the driver's primary role.
Daily tachograph printouts are not a standard requirement. However, drivers are required to make manual records of their activities, especially if the digital tachograph unit is malfunctioning or an incorrect record has been made. Printouts are legally required under specific scenarios: when the driver card is damaged, lost or stolen; in emergencies that force rule breaches; and whenever an enforcement officer requests one.
Dealing with tacho infringements involves several steps: Monitoring driver compliance and identifying infringements, typically through regular data downloads and analysis using tachograph analysis software. Investigating the cause of infringements, which involves discussions with the driver and reviewing evidence. Deciding on appropriate action based on the seriousness of the infringement, the driver's culpability, and the cause. Keeping full records of the entire process, including infringement reports, driver meetings, and any actions taken as a result of the findings.
"Overspeed 30" on a tachograph refers to an instance where the vehicle has been driven too fast for over 30 seconds. It's a notification for the driver to acknowledge the overspeeding event and to adjust their driving speed accordingly.
Tachograph offences involve not adhering to the regulations set for drivers of lorries, public service vehicles, and heavy good vehicles. These offences can include driving beyond the maximum allowed hours (up to 8 hours a day, with a possibility of 10 hours twice a week, and a maximum of 56 hours within a fixed week), not taking mandatory breaks (45-minute break after 4.5 hours of driving), and not resting adequately (11 hours in a 24-hour period, which can be reduced to 9 hours only thrice a week). Sanctions for offences range from verbal warnings and rectification notices to prohibition notes, prosecution, and referral to the traffic commissioner. Fines can reach up to £5,000, and serious offences like altering or forging tachograph records can lead to imprisonment.
Drivers must carry sufficient supplies of type-approved print roll on board the vehicle to produce a printout at an enforcement officer’s request . There must be one in the tachograph head and one spare in the cab.
Periods of Availability (PoA) are not considered as breaks in the United Kingdom. Drivers must switch the work mode to break (the bed symbol) for periods taken as a break.
Tachograph infringements can result in various punishments depending on their severity. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) can investigate up to 6 months of tachograph logs for driver hours offences with no time limit for investigations into tachograph falsification.
According to HMRC, drivers can use either a paper hours log book or an EU-approved and sealed tachograph.
The 12-day rule allows professional drivers to work for 12 consecutive days under specific conditions during an international coach tour. This rule necessitates a regular rest period of at least 45 hours immediately before the journey. During the 12-day trip, the driver and passengers must be in a different country from where they started. Despite this flexibility, drivers must continue to adhere to daily rest and break requirements. Compliance with the 12-day rule is monitored via tachograph data, and non-compliance can result in penalties such as fines and driving bans.
The 2 second rule for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) in the UK is a safety guideline from the Highway Code. It advises drivers to maintain at least a two-second gap between their vehicle and the one in front on roads with faster-moving traffic and in tunnels with reduced visibility. The gap should be wider at higher speeds, increasing to 2.4 seconds at 50mph and 3.1 seconds at 70mph. On wet roads, this gap should be at least doubled, and further increased on icy roads. To use the rule, drivers watch the vehicle in front pass a fixed object and then count two seconds. If they reach the object before counting to two, they need to drop back.
A tachograph indicating "driving without card" means the vehicle is being operated without the driver's tachograph card inserted. This is a serious rule breach in the UK. Drivers must always use their card when operating their vehicle; if it is lost or stolen, they must take a printout at the start and end of a shift. Driving without a card records activities as "undeclared duty," and only exceptional circumstances, like complete irretrievability of the card, may excuse a driver from this requirement. In such cases, specific steps like informing the DVLA and keeping printouts for inspection must be followed.
Whether you can tow without a tachograph in the UK depends on the combined weight of the vehicle and the trailer. If this combined weight exceeds 3.5 tonnes gross, you must adhere to the tachograph rules and have a tachograph fitted in your vehicle. This requirement applies under the EU Drivers' Hours rules. However, there are exemptions for light vehicles or vehicle-trailer combinations used to carry materials, equipment, or machinery for the driver's work, like for an electrician or plumber. If the vehicle's maximum weight is 7.5 tonnes and driving isn't the driver's main activity, it can be exempt provided it doesn't operate outside a 100 km radius of the base. If you need to drive further, a tachograph should be fitted.
Getting an overspeed on the tachograph is not considered a legal infringement. While some companies may issue infringements for overspeed events as part of their internal policies, this is not mandated by law. The digital tachograph's overspeed setting triggers the production of an 'Overspeed Event' if the vehicle exceeds the authorized speed for more than one minute. However, this setting and the resulting overspeed events are not directly related to legal speed limit enforcement but are more about vehicle and tachograph calibration.
Driving a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) without a tachograph card is considered a serious violation of the rules in the UK. However, if a driver loses their tacho card, there are specific steps that can be taken to remain compliant with the law. In such cases, the driver is required to take a printout at the start and end of each shift. The Vehicle Unit (VU) will still record that a card was not present and continue to record all activities, which could be considered "undeclared duty." It is crucial to apply for a replacement card immediately and inform the appropriate authorities (like the DVLA) about the loss or theft of the card. Driving without a tachograph card is typically allowed only for a period of up to 15 calendar days until a replacement card is obtained.
If a tachograph in a lorry is found to be faulty, the transport company is responsible for its repair, which must be carried out by an approved fitter or workshop. The company has a timeframe of 7 days to repair the tachograph from the moment the malfunction is detected. If the failure occurs during a journey, the driver can continue the route if they are confident the vehicle will reach the base for repair within 7 days. Otherwise, the nearest approved workshop should be contacted for repair. During this time, the driver must manually record various details, such as identification data and information for periods not recorded correctly by the tachograph.
Tachographs must be calibrated every two years at an Approved Tachograph Centre to ensure accurate readings. Additionally, data from digital tachographs should be downloaded by the fleet manager every 28 days as per legal requirements, although many companies opt to do this more frequently. The Vehicle Unit (VU) of a digital tachograph typically stores data for the previous 365 days before overwriting the oldest data. This ensures that all records have been downloaded, analysed, and saved to maintain legal compliance.
The fines for tachograph offences in the UK vary depending on the nature and severity of the breach. They can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds. Specific fines include £300 for tachograph infringements and falsifying drivers' records. Drivers stopped at the roadside can be fined for up to 5 offences at any one time, resulting in a £1500 fine overall. More serious or multiple offences could lead to a prison sentence. Failure to use a tachograph or to hand over tachograph records can incur a Level 5 fine of £5,000, with the possibility of a two-year imprisonment for tachograph manipulation.
No, typically you do not need a tachograph to tow a mini digger, as long as the total weight of the towing vehicle and the mini digger does not exceed 3.5 tonnes. However, if the combined weight exceeds this limit, a tachograph may be required.
Yes, bus drivers in the UK typically need a tachograph if they drive a vehicle designed for 9 or more passengers and it's used for commercial purposes. However, there are exemptions, such as for local operations within 50 km of the base.

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