Tachograph Regulations and Infringements


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Understanding the legal side of your tachograph is just as important as keeping to the general driving laws. As a driver, you need to be responsible at all times to ensure the safety of both yourself and the surrounding drivers/passengers; and at the same time making sure that all your tacho analysis and reporting are accurate and up to date.

The main aim of OPTAC3 Tachograph Analysis is to keep drivers legal and compliant with the Drivers’ Hours Legislation and the Working Time Directive. It automatically checks the tachograph data against legislation, and displays summaries and infringements in a clear, easy to understand format.

In this article, we look at the laws, regulations and infringements that you may come across while using your tachograph – helping you to stay on the right side of the law.  

  1. When do you need a tachograph?
  2. What type of tachograph do you need?
  3. Which set of rulings applies to your vehicle?
  4. What are the common rules that apply to your tachograph?
  5. What are GB domestic rules?
  6. What restrictions are in place for drivers’ hours according to EU rules?
  7. What are the tachograph enforcements and penalties?
  8. What happens if you falsify a tachograph?
  9. What exemptions apply?
  10. So, don’t get caught foul of the law

When do you need a tachograph?

If your vehicle is subject to EU & AETR (European Union and European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport) rules, then you need to use a tachograph at all times. The weight of your vehicle is important, as the law now requires any vehicle weighing over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with a tachograph.

Thankfully, the majority of drivers are well informed about whether a vehicle needs a tachograph or not.

What type of tachograph do you need?

Any vehicle registered on, or after 1st May 2006, must be fitted with a digital tachograph. If your vehicle has been registered before this date, you can choose your preferred tacho, either analogue or digital.

Which set of rulings applies to your vehicle?

An easy way to evaluate your vehicle and which set of rules applies to it, is to run through the following points:

  • Does your vehicle weigh over 3.5 tonnes? If it does and operates entirely in the UK, then EU rules apply. If it passes through an AETR country (Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Monaco, Moldova, Russia, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and/or Uzbekistan) then AETR rules apply.
  • If your vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes and operates between EU, EEA countries or Switzerland, then EU rules apply to your vehicle.
  • If your vehicle weighs over 3.5 tonnes, but will not be operating entirely in the UK, nor will it pass through AETR, EEA (European Economic Area; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) or EU countries, then you will need to research the domestic rules that apply to the specific country you are driving through (please contact the correct embassy for the most up-to-date information).
  • If your vehicle does not weigh over the 3.5 tonnes weight limit and is entirely operated within Great Britain, then GB domestic rules apply to your vehicle and driver.
  • If your vehicle does not weigh over the 3.5 tonnes weight limit and is not operating in Great Britain entirely, then, again, you will need to research the domestic rules that apply to the specifically visited country (please contact the embassy for the correct and most up-to-date information).

What are the common rules that apply to your tachograph?

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The following rules are to be followed at all times:

  • Drivers must ensure that the mode switch/mode button is correctly set to record their activities as soon as they start their shift.
  • If for any reason, your tachograph doesn’t record your activities accurately, it is recommended that you take a manual tachograph reading. For digital tachographs, there should be a signed print-out for the period where the tachograph hasn’t recorded activity correctly. It should also state details of the error and the reason.
  • Drivers can sometimes drive two or more vehicles over the course of the day (as part of the job requirement), with more than one recording device. If you are required to do this, you must:
  •  use a driver card when using digital tachographs, or
  • Use tachograph charts (if using analogue tachos), to record activity across vehicles.
  • Always record your activity. A driver who does not possess a driver card is not permitted to drive vehicles that are fitted with digital tachographs.
  • Drivers must record all work, including periods of availability within your shift. This must be recorded on all driving and non-driving days within a week. Non-driving days can be the following; if a driver works in a warehouse from Monday – Tuesday but is required to drive a vehicle within EU ruling on Wednesday, then records must be completed for the full week (including the work within a warehouse and/or another place of work).
  • For non-driving days (when working in a warehouse or yard), your name, start and finish date must be recorded.

Operators have their own legal responsibilities, including:

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  • Ensuring that tachographs have been inspected correctly, as well as calibrated and then checked again to be in line with ruling (whether it be EU, AETR or GB).
  • Supplying sufficient amounts of approved charts and print rolls to all drivers that they manage.
  • To properly instruct drivers on all rules that apply to them and their vehicles.
  • To ensure that all drivers return their used tachographs charts, even after employment has ended, as they may be needed for future reference.
  • Be sure to properly schedule all drivers in line with EU regulated resting periods.
  • Download all data from the vehicle unit every 56 days.
  • Download data from each driver card every 28 days.
  • Ensure that charts or digital data meet EU rules and regulations.
  • Ensure that all records are available to show enforcement officers for 12 months.
  • Ensure that reasonable steps are in place to prevent any breach of rules.

Rules that apply directly to your tachograph are:

  • All tachographs must be properly installed, including calibration and seal.
  • Installation must be performed by a vehicle manufacturer or an approved tachograph calibration centre.
  • A certificate showing the installation must be provided with every tachograph.
  • Analogue tachographs must be inspected and re-calibrated every two years.
  • Digital tachographs must be calibrated every two years. If they have had any repair, if the vehicle registration changes, and/or if an alteration to the circumference of the tyres changes, they must be re-calibrated straight away.
  • If any equipment breaks or becomes faulty, it must be repaired as soon as possible.
  • If your vehicle is not able to return to its base within a week of any repair being made to the tachograph system, then the repair must be made en route to the base.
  • For any faults or breakdowns involving digital tachographs, operators are required to ask the repair centre to download any data held on the tachograph before any repairs are made.

What are GB domestic rules?

GB domestic rules can be found in the Transport Act 1968, and only apply to vehicles that are exempt from the EU rules (under the weight of 3.5 tonnes and entirely operated in GB). They also differ to those of Northern Ireland. These mostly apply to passenger-carrying and goods vehicles. The rules are as follows:

  • If you are employed by a company, then duty time is anytime you are working, whether it be driving a vehicle or work without the need of a vehicle.
  • If you’re self-employed, then duty time only applies to the time you’re driving the vehicle or other work related to the vehicle and its load.
  • The daily driving limit differs to other ruling, the driver cannot drive for more than 10 hours per day.
  • Off road driving counts as duty time only if it’s for the following things; agriculture, quarrying, forestry or building work.
  • You must not go over the limit of 11 hours of duty per day.
  • Your time must be recorded weekly on a record sheet.
  • After 5 hours and 30 minutes, you must rest for at least 30 minutes. e.g. if you started your shift at 8am, you would need to break at 1:30 pm for at least 30 minutes, meaning the earliest time you can go back to work is 2 pm.

GB domestic rules do not apply to you if you have been driving for less than four hours per day, if you’re driving on private roads within duty times, or if you’re driving vehicles for the armed forces, police or fire brigade.

What drivers’ hours restrictions are there according to EU rules?

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If your vehicle is used for the purposes of carrying goods, then the rules from the EU ruling are below. Please note, that this does not include any vehicle operations that take place off the public road.

  • You must break for at least 45 minutes after driving for 4.5 hours, this can be divided into two separate rest periods if necessary.
  • Daily driving hours must not go over nine hours, although they can be extended to 10 hours, twice a week if necessary.
  • The weekly total driving hours must not go over 56 hours.
  • A driver must take a weekly rest period at the end of six 24-hour working periods, a weekly rest must last for at least 45 hours.
  • Drivers who have interrupted their rest period to attend to an emergency at work must complete another rest period before starting work again.
  • Travelling time always needs to be considered by drivers, no matter what vehicle they are in. For example, if the driver has to drive in a car for 2 hours to pick up a vehicle from a set location, those two hours would still be included within working hours and rest periods would still apply.

What are tachograph offences and the penalties?

There are several things to be aware of so as to avoid committing an offence. Each offence has a penalty associated with it, which varies depending on how severe the offence is, including fines that can range from £2,500 to £5,000. These include:

  • Failure to record driving time properly or at all.
  • Failure to keep your records under the GB domestic rules.
  • Failure to install your tachograph on a vehicle that requires one.
  • Failure to use your tachograph, when installed.
  • Failure to hand over recording documents and/or equipment to your employer or authorities.
  • Failure to take steps to ensure that the driver has agreed to time schedules and that the driver respects all EU ruling.

Penalties range from a verbal warning to prosecution (legal proceedings), depending on how serious the matter is and whether it affects the interest of the public and/or harms the public.

Please bear in mind that VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) have the power to:

  • Inspect your vehicle if required.
  • Prohibit and direct vehicles.
  • Conduct and appear in proceedings at court.

You must abide by their request if they ask to carry out any of the above.

What happens if you make up a tachograph record?

Making things up (falsifying) or altering your records with the intent to deceive is a crime and could result in two years’ imprisonment. This punishment is also applied to any alterations, or forgery, or signs of tampering made to the seal of the tachograph.

What are the exemptions?

  • You are exempt from EU ruling if the following applies to you and/or your vehicle:
  • Your vehicle is not capable of exceeding 40km/h.
  • Your vehicle is owned or hired by the armed forces or emergency services.
  • Vehicles used in emergencies; this includes non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid.
  • Your vehicle is for medical purposes.
  • Your vehicle falls into the specialised breakdown vehicles category.
  • Any vehicle undergoing road test for technical development.
  • Any vehicle being used by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
  • Any vehicle that was manufactured before 1 January 1947.
  • Any vehicle that is propelled by steam.

So, don’t fall foul of the law

By taking the time to read and understand the above information, you should be able to see which rules apply to you and your vehicle. Making sure that you put these into practice will ensure that you remain within the law and avoid any nasty repercussions.

If you’re at all stuck with anything to do with laws and regulations for tachographs, we’d recommend that you speak to your manager or company in the first instance. They will be able to tell you the correct rules and guidelines, to keep you right.

The main aim of OPTAC3 Tachograph Analysis is to keep your drivers legal and compliant with the Drivers’ Hours Legislation and the Working Time Directive. It automatically checks the tachograph data against legislation and displays summaries and infringements in a clear, easy to understand format. Find out more here.