Responsibilities of Tachograph Operators

The following information relates to Operator responsibilities in connection with recording equipment (tachographs). Failure to adhere to the requirements of these responsibilities can lead to the suspension, curtailment or even revocation of your company operator license.

Operators of transport undertakings have legal responsibilities and liabilities for their own compliance with the regulations and that of the drivers under their control. Transport undertakings must:

  • Ensure that tachographs have been calibrated, inspected and re-calibrated in line with the rules.
  • Supply sufficient quantity of type-approved charts and print roll to drivers.
  • Ensure the return of used tachograph charts from drivers. Note that this responsibility continues after a driver has left employment until all charts are returned.
  • Ensure drivers are properly trained and instructed on the rules relating to drivers’ hours and the correct functioning and use of tachograph recording equipment.
  • Properly schedule work so the rules are met.
  • Not make payments to drivers related to distances travelled and/or the amount of goods carried if that would encourage breaches of the rules.

Download data from the vehicle unit

You must download data from the vehicle unit:

  • At least every 90 calendar days. However, we recommend download the VU on a maximum of 56 days or preferably every 30 days.
  • Immediately before transferring control of the use of the vehicle to another person (for example, when the vehicle is sold or off-hired).
  • Without delay upon permanently removing the unit from service in the vehicle.
  • Without delay upon becoming aware that the unit is malfunctioning, if it is possible to download data.
  • Without delay in any circumstances where it is reasonably foreseeable that data will be erased imminently.
  • In any case as often as necessary to ensure that no data is lost (the Vehicle Unit holds 365 days’ worth of average data, after which the memory is full and the oldest data is overwritten and lost).

Download data from driver cards

You must download data from driver cards:

  • At least every 28 calendar days.
  • immediately before the driver ceases to be employed by the undertaking (remember that this also applies to agency drivers).
  • Without delay upon being aware that the card has been damaged or is malfunctioning if it is possible to download data.
  • Without delay in any circumstances where it is reasonably foreseeable that data will be erased imminently.
  • Where it is only possible to download the card via a vehicle unit (for example, if the card is stuck), immediately before ceasing control of the use of the vehicle.
  • In any case as often as necessary to ensure that no data is lost (the driver card holds 28 days of average data, after which the memory is full and the oldest data is overwritten and lost. An average day is deemed to be 93 activity changes. In certain operations where more than 93 activity changes are recorded in a day, a driver card may hold less than 28 days of data).

Provide copies

Provide copies of charts and digital data to drivers if requested to do so.

Regular checks

Make regular checks of charts and digital data to ensure compliance.

Produce records

Be able to produce records to enforcement officers for 12 months.

Breaches of rules

Take all reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the rules.

Tachograph calibration and inspection

All tachographs used for recording drivers’ hours, whether analogue or digital, must be properly installed, calibrated and sealed. This task must be performed either by a vehicle manufacturer or an approved tachograph calibration centre (call DVSA on 0300 123 9000 to find your nearest approved tachograph centre). An installation plaque must be fixed to or near the tachograph. Tachograph calibration centres will issue a certificate showing details of any inspection conducted.

Analogue tachographs must be inspected every 2 years and recalibrated every 6 years.

Digital tachographs must be recalibrated:

  • Every 2 years
  • After any repair
  • If the vehicle registration number changes
  • If UTC is out by more than 20 minutes
  • After an alteration to the circumference of the tyres or characteristic coefficient

Inspection and recalibration dates are shown on the plaque and updated by calibration centres. Operators must ensure that these tachograph requirements are complied with before a new or used vehicle goes into service.

Breakdown of equipment

EU legislation requires that in the event of a breakdown or faulty operation of the equipment, it must be repaired as soon as possible. If the vehicle is unable to return to its base within a week the repair must be carried out en route.

GB legislation also provides that a driver or operator will not be liable to be convicted if they can prove to a court that the vehicle was on its way to a place where the recording equipment could be repaired, or that it was not immediately practicable for the equipment to be repaired and the driver was keeping a manual record. Additionally, they will not be liable where a seal is broken and the breaking of the seal was unavoidable and it could not be immediately repaired, providing that all other aspects of the EU rules were being complied with.

For faults and breakdowns involving digital tachographs, operators should ask the repair centre to download any data held on the unit. If this is not possible the centre should issue the operator with a ‘certificate of undownloadability’, which must be kept for at least 12 months.

International journeys

Although this is the position under EU rules, it is not advisable to start or continue an international journey with a defective tachograph, even if manual records are kept. This is because many countries will not permit entry by such vehicles, since their own domestic laws require a fully functioning system.

Digital tachographs – company cards

Company cards are issued by DVLA in the company name. Company cards do not primarily hold data but act as an electronic key to protect and access data from the digital tachograph. A company can hold up to 2,232 cards, which will have identical card numbers but different issue numbers at the end of the card number that enable operators to tell them apart.

Company cards are needed to download data from the VU – they can be placed in either driver card slot. Company cards are not needed in order to access information from a driver card where it is being downloaded separately from the VU.

Operators may also use the company card to lock in (in other words, protect) their drivers’ details. Once an operator has locked in, all subsequent data is protected and the full details may only be downloaded by inserting the same numbered company card. Locking in is especially recommended since failure to do so could lead to an operator being unable to download its data if the data held in the VU has been protected by a previous operator linking in with its card.

The cards can be used to lockout when they have finished with a vehicle – for example, if it has been sold or if operators have used a hired vehicle. This will signify the end of their interest in the vehicle and its operations, although failing to do this will not prevent another company protecting its own data by locking in, as locking in will automatically lock out the previous protection.

Operators who use hired vehicles may need to train their drivers and equip them with the means, to download VU data from vehicles at the point of un-hire where this occurs away from the base.

Operators can apply for company cards by going only to the following link: apply for a company card