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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.

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Digital Tachograph



Digital tachographs work by storing digital data on the driver and vehicle in their own memory and separately on a driver's smart card. Transport undertakings must periodically download this data from the digital tachograph (known as the Vehicle Unit or VU) every 56 days and from driver cards every 28 days, and analyse the information to ensure that the rules have been complied with.

Driver cards and records

It is a legal requirement for a digital tachograph-equipped vehicle driven in scope of EU rules that the driver must use a driver card.

If the vehicle is used without a card being inserted, the system will not prevent the vehicle from being driven, but the VU will record the fact that the vehicle has been used without a card.

Drivers may only be in possession of one driver's smart card, and must never use anyone else's card or allow another driver to use their card.

When driving a vehicle that is equipped with a digital tachograph, drivers should:

• ensure that the instrument is calibrated by inspecting the calibration plaque or interrogating the instrument;
• ensure that their driver card is inserted into the correct slot (driver in slot 1, second driver in slot 2) from the moment they take over the vehicle, and that it is ready for use, before the vehicle is moved;

• record the country in which they begin and end their daily work period. This must always be carried out at the time of the start or end of the period, even if the card is not to be withdrawn or inserted (for example if the card is left in overnight);

• carry sufficient supplies of type-approved print roll on board the vehicle so that a printout can be produced at an enforcement officer's request;


• ensure that all duties conducted since the driver card was last removed from a tachograph are manually entered onto the card record, using the manual entry facility on the tachograph;

• ensure that the tachograph is working properly;

• ensure that through the daily working period the mode switch is used correctly to record other work, periods of availability, and rest and breaks;

• take reasonable steps to protect their card from dirt and damage;

• use only their own personalised driver card to record driving and other activities they undertake;

• ensure that the card is not removed from the tachograph during the working day unless otherwise authorised. The rules are not specific on who can authorise removal of the card, but cases where cards can be removed include a change of vehicle, or where another driver will be using the vehicle during a break or rest period;

• on multi-manning operations ensure that their driver card is placed in the correct slot (slot 1 when they are acting as driver and slot 2 when co-driver on a double-manned journey) when they take over driving;

• make their cards available for downloading by their employer; and

• be able to produce at the roadside:

- charts and any legally required manual records for the current day and the previous 28 calendar days; and

- the driver's digital smart card if they hold one.



Lost, stolen or malfunctioning driver cards

Where it is impossible to use a driver card (e.g. where it has been lost, stolen or damaged or is malfunctioning) a driver may drive without the card for a maximum of 15 calendar days (or longer if this is necessary for the vehicle to be returned to its premises) provided that he produces two printouts - one at the start of the journey and another at the end. Both printouts must be marked with:

u the driver's name or driver card or licence number, so the driver can be identified;

u any manual entries needed to show periods of other work, availability, and rest or break; and

u the driver's signature.

The driver must report the problem to DVLA and apply for a new card within seven calendar days.


UTC - the time set on a digital tachograph

The internal clock of a digital tachograph is set to Universal Time Co-ordinated (UTC). The time displayed on the clock face can be set by the driver either to local time or to UTC. However, all data will be recorded by the VU on the time set by the integral clock, which operates on UTC - this is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). You will need to remember that UTC is one hour behind British Summer Time (BST). So, between 01.00 on the last Sunday in March and 01.00 on the last Sunday in October drivers must account for the difference when manually inputting activity details in the digital tachograph.

For example, if drivers carried out other work for two hours between 06.00 and 08.00 in June before taking over the vehicle, they must enter this as between 05.00 and 07.00 in UTC time. As mentioned above, it is possible for drivers to set the display time on the VU to local BST, but this will not prevent the VU recording in UTC. Therefore, it is recommended that drivers leave the display time in UTC as a reminder of the difference.

Manual records

A digital tachograph offers the ability for a driver to enter activities carried out by him away from his vehicle. This is by means of the manual input facility offered by the instrument. A true 'manual' record will only be necessary if:

u an instrument malfunction occurs;

u the driver breaches the rules due to an unforeseen event; or

u to correct a record.

If this happens, a driver should record his activities or reasons on the reverse of a portion of print roll.





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