Digital Tachographs and Records - Freights

Digital Tachographs and Records

Digital tachographs are instruments to record driving activities in vehicles in scope of EU and AETR rules. Installation of digital tachograph (replacing analogue) became legal requirement for the vehicles first registered after 1 st of May 2006 for EU countries and from 2010 in AETR countries. The form of recording driving activities changed from recording on paper charts to electronic storage of data in tachograph unit itself and drivers card.

The data needs to be downloaded from the drivers card and tachograph unit using digital tacho readers, company card and software allowing to view the data electronically. Based on average use the unit should be capable of storing 1 year’s worth of data, where driver’s card holds only 28 days and after that it will start recording over oldest data.Tachograph card and unit download is required before that time to avoid loss of data. It is a good practice to have a card downloading equipment available to the drivers debriefing after every journey/shift as in case of driver loosing the card or agency driver not coming back to work for us the data may not be available to download.

To operate a correct procedure an operator will require the following:

  • Digital tachograph equipment installed in the vehicle
  • drivers in possession of driver’s cards
  • company card
  • service of approved work shop with the possession of workshop card
  • tacho unit downloading tool
  • card reader
  • software available to read the data on a PC or other device
  • provide sufficient paper for print outs from tachograph unit, type number of the paper roll must correspond to the tachograph head
  • downloading drivers cards at least every 28 days
  • downloading the vehicle unit memory at least every 90 days
  • to have a record of activities available for inspection by officials or to make available to the drivers on request and kept for at least 12 months.

On installation of tachograph equipment the unit must be calibrated and registration number of the vehicle keyed in the memory. The installation plaque should be affixed to the unit or just beside it.

Inspections of tachograph equipment should be done by approved workshop only within two years of the date of previous inspection and also in case of UTC time being wrong by more than 20 minutes, any changes to vehicle specification affecting recording ( like wheel size ) or taco unit repair and in case of the registration of the vehicle change as well.

Digital tachographs print out is a facility providing printed information on tacho unit activities. It is easily accessible from the menu and may be needed if manual entry/ explanation is required in the event of explaining emergency, explaining or correcting driver error. In this circumstances the driver would need to make an adjustment at the back of the print out where space for adjustments and explanations is provided. Good example of that may be when 2 nd driver in a two man crew needs to record other work( doing map reading, paperwork, training) whilst the tacho unit defaults 2 nd man activities as POA. The print out may also be requested by enforcement authorities or needed when drivers card has been lost, stolen or malfunctioning providing correct reporting procedure has been followed and time limits observed.

There is no legal limit on producing a print out from the unit so the driver can produce it for own records as well. The legally required print outs needs to be treated same as any other driving activities record and kept with the driver for 28 days, then kept by the operator for 12 months.

Driver’s card 

The driver is responsible for their card and should always use it whilst driving a vehicle in scope of EU driver’s hours. In a situation of card developing a fault or being damaged this should be reported to issuing authority ( DVLA in the UK). Lost or stolen cards should be reported the same way as soon as possible but no later than seven days with additional notification to the Police department of the country where the card got stolen. DVLA will issue replacement card within 5 working days of notification and  the driver is allowed to drive digital vehicles for up to 15 days without a card. There is a need of making two print outs, one at the beginning and one at the end of the shift. Drivers licence number needs to be put on the print out and a signature is required for identification of the driver. This print outs need to be treated as any other EU drivers record.Driver cannot carry on driving without driver’s card after 15 day period expiry regardless if driving digital or analogue tachograph vehicle.

Cards are valid for 5 years and need to be replaced prior to expiry, so the new card is ready to use and old one kept for driving record for a period of 28 days then destroyed.

Company Card

Company Tachograph Card is required for the operator to be able to release the data from the unit to the download key and also to lock the data. The company should lock lock in once the vehicle arrives for the first time and  before it’s first use, then the company lock out option needs to be used whilst the vehicle is to be removed from the operation. This helps stay in line with data protection legislation. The company lock in or out is easily accessible from the tacho unit menu whilst card is inserted.

Workshop Card 

Approved workshops are in a possession of workshop cards which are required for vehicle tacho unit calibration

Digital Tachograph Manual entries

In order to allow a driver to record the activities spent not in the vehicle there is manual entry facility provided. On the commencement of work once the driver inserts digital card into the unit the question of manual entry will appear. Depending on the tachograph type the manual entry must be done if there is a gap in drivers activities. It is a good idea to seek advice from someone more experienced to get trained how to do it and for the companies to provide this kind of training as many drivers get it wrong. Common mistakes include recording daily rest as other work or providing record for the time when the driver was driving analogue vehicle resulting in double record.

The steps that need to be followed depend on the type of tacho unit but will require following action:

  1. once the card is inserted the unit will display a question of manual entry. Put “yes” if you want to add a manual entry and “no” if you don’t ( If you do not put a manual entry you may have to show a record on the chart or print out)
  2. once you select “yes” the vehicle will display last known activity (when card was ejected)
  3. then using arrow buttons you need to select the correct mode for the activities (other work,break/rest,POA or “?”-unknown time) and then select for how long was this activity taken. (you will be asked to select dates if your last activity was more than a day ago.Older versions of tachographs will assume “unknown time from the time you press finish shift on last activity day. The newer versions will require putting the data for all that period. If you have other records (charts, attestation of activities letter) then select “?” for that period of time and move on to current day.
  4. at the end the option to accept manual entry will pop up, if you are happy with your entry press accept if not you will be taken to the beginning of the exercise.

In case of making a mistake you need to do a manual print out and make an adjustment at the back of it. The common sign of making a mistake is when digital tachograph prompts you to take a 45 minute driving break after just couple of hours driving, this usually means that you did not clock your daily rest and your accumulated driving is adding with yesterdays.

Another point worth mentioning is that some units will time out and clock the  default mode in after no action has been taken by driver or if she/he drive away just after putting the card in.If the default is set up as other work, then the record will be put as other work for entire missing time since last activity which will mean no daily rest showing on driver record.

Manual entries can be read from driver print out and are shown between two dotted lines.

Non EU rules driving or other work can be recorded as above or on the charts by manual entry.













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