A tachograph is a device that is installed in all commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. It records information, including distances covered, hours worked, and breaks taken. It is used as a way to check that driver workload and working conditions are being complied with appropriately. These regulations ensure the safety of the drivers themselves and the safety of other road users.

For people who are new to tachographs, there are often questions; read on for the most commonly asked questions and the answers to them.

Reading a Tachograph

Firstly, how is a tachograph read? Depending on the type of tachograph, there are several ways to read it. For example, a driver card or a download key may be needed, some can be read manually, and others can be read automatically with the help of a black box.

Does the tachograph need reading often? A digital tachograph needs reading every ninety days; the data must be downloaded during this period and stored in a computer or a server. The driver card, however, needs to be read every twenty-eight days. Some companies prefer to use tachograph analysis software while reading the tachographs as it can help streamline the process. For example, the software provided by FleetGo allows users to see at a glance if their drivers and practices are compliant with laws and regulations, all in a handy, easy to read dashboard.

How long should the data be kept? After registration, the data from both the driver card and the tachograph must be kept for a year, unless it is being used to comply with tax regulations, in which case it must be kept for seven years.

Using a Tachograph

How a tachograph is used depends entirely on its type and brand. They come with specific user manuals detailing how they should be operated. Generally, digital tachographs work similarly, starting with the insertion of a driver card, then other details are entered, such as the country of departure and when any rests are scheduled.

Can they be manipulated? A tachograph can be manipulated using another device. However, manipulating a tachograph is a serious offence that can result in fines or even prison time.

Does a tachograph need calibrating? It is vital that a tachograph records accurate information, and to achieve this, calibration is needed. Usually, every two years, the tachograph is calibrated; this procedure needs to be carried out by a specialist.


Why are tachographs necessary? Analogue tachographs were the first iteration, and they were made mandatory in the mid-1980s for all qualifying drivers in the European Union. Although the digital tachograph came later, it was made mandatory in 2006 for all commercial vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes. Tachographs are also mandatory for commercial passenger transport that carries over eight people.

Who is the data used by? A government agency regulates the data, the DVA they are responsible for monitoring tachograph data. If an offence is committed, the data and the tachograph discs are confiscated and used to create an official report.

In Conclusion

The above questions are the most commonly asked when new businesses or drivers begin their research into tachographs. Tachographs may be tricky to get used to, but they are indispensable. The regulations and restrictions on drive times and rest periods are important, and they must be adhered to.