Digital Tachograph: How to get started

Subject to EU & AETR rules, the law now requires any vehicle weighing over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with an analogue or digital tachograph. All commercial vehicles registered on or after 1st May 2006 must be fitted with a digital tachograph before they can be driven.

For most new vehicles, a digital tachograph will come as standard in the cab. But there is always the option to upgrade your current tacho to a more advanced version, or more importantly, switch to the tachograph that you prefer.

In order to use a digital tachograph, you need a personal digital tachograph driver card. These driver cards enable driving data to be stored and accessed in an easy, safe and legal way. A driver who does not have a digital tachograph driver’s card cannot by law drive a vehicle equipped with a digital tachograph.

To get your driver’s card, you need to apply to the DVLA using this form and then post it to the DVLA address on the form. This form can also be used if you have lost your card, had it stolen or if it’s expired and needs replacing.

Once you have a valid personal driver card, you can use a digital tachograph – either in your own vehicle or in a company owned vehicle.

What to look for in a digital tachograph

When you are thinking about switching tachographs, you need to consider several factors. The SE5000 Exakt Duo2 can give you up to 45 mins per day extra driving time and a lower infringement rate*; and it is used by companies such as Coca-Cola and Asda, along with many others.

The Stoneridge SE5000 Exakt Duo2 includes working time directive calculations, which ensure that you know exactly how long you’ve been driving for. This means there are fewer errors in timekeeping and fewer infringements.

It’s sometimes hard to work out when to drop driving or take too little time for your legally required breaks, which is where the Duo technology is very useful. This tacho has a support tool that displays real-time updates, which helps reduce infringements by up to 60%*. This keeps you legal while optimising time on the road, driving and working.

The SE5000 Exakt Duo2 tachograph in combination with the OPTAC3 tachograph analysis helps to ensure that you drive within your legal limits, and have the best software to help you analyse the data that the tachograph provides. This combination helps fleet managers to not only plan more effectively but to run their fleets more efficiently.

To see exactly what your specific fleet can save, you can upload your own VU data here to calculate precisely how much driving time you could gain by upgrading to the SE5000 Exakt Duo2. The answer may surprise you.

Mobile apps are free to help make both support and management of tachographs easier for both drivers and fleet managers. Duo Mobile syncs with your SE5000 Exakt Duo2, giving you a second overview, as well as real-time updates, which are displayed on your phone’s screen. You can find out how to use your mobile app via our YouTube channel here.

Tachograph analysis software – OPTAC3

Alongside the SE5000 Exakt Duo2, the tachograph analysis system is just as important.

This software analyses the data on the tachograph. This helps you comply with Driver’s Hours Legislation and the Working Time Directive. The software automatically checks all tachograph data against current legislation, providing a summary of the data, including any infringements, in a clear and concise way. The OPTAC3 tachograph analysis software is available for your server or via the web, so you can access it in whichever way is most useful to you.

With all these added benefits, it’s clear that switching to the right digital tachograph is essential to give you or your fleet the best tools to work with, as well as keeping you legal.

Driver and company cards

There are four types of cards required to run on a digital tachograph, however, the two most used are the driver card and company card. These will be the only two cards a driver or fleet manager needs to get driving legally.

Driver Card – This is a personal card, used by each driver only, to record their driving activities, rest and break times. Digital data and vehicle unit (VU) data can be stored on these cards. These cards cannot be shared or transferred.

Company Card – This is for use by the fleet operator only, it allows data to be locked in the vehicle unit, securely managing your fleet data.

Paper rolls

When thinking about what accessories you also need, the only product other than your driver card is digital tachograph printer rolls. Digital tachographs use special thermal paper rolls. These printouts show the driver’s activity, including breaks and rest time. The information is broken down into a combination of text and symbols that you can find out about in our infographic showing what the symbols mean.

Tacho and analysis software support

Here at Stoneridge, we take drivers support and welfare very seriously, with multiple channels of support available to you including; workshop support web chat, customer support for OPTAC3 issues, web chat, a callback service and YouTube training videos.

OPTAC3 digital tachograph analysis provides you with a cost-effective solution that ensures you stay compliant with the latest regulations. Suitable for all fleet sizes and with over 40 different driver and vehicle reports, the software is easy to use, helping each driver in a quick and low-cost way. Find out more here.

*By implementing unique screens in the latest SE5000 to provide extra information to drivers, infringements in a sample of real data taken from 108 drivers, examined over 180 days using any digital tachograph manufactured prior to April 2012 for 90 days, followed by an SE5000 Rev 7.4 or 7.5 for 90 days, showed a 60% reduction in actual infringements.