Digital and smart tachographs work by storing digital data on the driver and vehicle in their own memory and separately on a driver’s card. Smart tachographs also automatically record the location of the vehicle and allow for enforcement authorities to remotely interrogate the data. Strict rules are in place for the use of the data.
Operators must periodically download this data from digital and smart tachographs (known as the Vehicle Unit or VU) every 90 days and from driver cards every 28 days and analyse the information to ensure that the rules have been complied with.
When driving a vehicle fitted with a digital or smart tachograph on a journey that is not in scope of EU/ AETR rules it is recommended, but not legally required, to select ‘out-of-scope’ in the tachograph. Details of how to do this will be contained in the user manual for the model of tachograph.
Driver cards and records
It is a legal requirement for a driver to use a driver card when driving a vehicle that is in scope of EU/ AETR rules and which is equipped with a digital or smart tachograph.
If the vehicle is used without a driver 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.
A driver who has not been issued a driver card is not permitted to drive a vehicle equipped with a digital or smart tachograph.
Similarly, a driver who is not in possession of their issued driver card is not permitted to drive a vehicle equipped with a digital or smart tachograph unless the card has been lost or stolen, in which case the procedures for reporting this must be followed. See the information at Lost, stolen or malfunctioning driver cards below. It is not permitted to keep manual records if the driver card has been forgotten.
Drivers may only be in possession of one driver’s card and must never use anyone else’s card or allow another driver to use their card.
Drivers must inform the DVLA if their card bears incorrect details, for example after a change of name.
When driving a vehicle that is equipped with a digital or smart tachograph, drivers must:
- ensure that the tachograph is calibrated by inspecting the calibration plaque or interrogating the tachograph
- 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)
- when using the derogation to interrupt rest on journeys involving a ferry or train, the ferry mode must be selected in addition to the rest mode (EU rules only)
- 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 button 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
- be able to produce at the roadside:
- charts and any legally required manual records for the current day and the previous 28 calendar days
- the driver’s card if they hold one
- sign a hard copy of data when required to do so by a DVSA examiner or a police officer
Mode switch default: Depending on the preferences entered into the digital/smart tachograph at the time of calibration the digital tachograph can default to recording either ‘rest’ for driver 1 and driver 2 or ‘other work’ for driver 1 and ‘availability’ for driver 2 when the vehicle stops. Drivers must use the mode switch correctly to ensure that rest and break periods are recorded correctly.
How to apply for driver cards
In England, Scotland and Wales
Apply for a digital tachograph driver card in England, Scotland or Wales.
DVLA will accept payment for up to 25 driver card applications on one company cheque.
Contact DVLA to get help applying.
Telephone: 0300 790 6109
Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm
Find out about call charges
In Northern Ireland
Apply for a digital tachograph driver card in Northern Ireland.
Call the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) to get an application form or pick one up from a DVA test centre.
Telephone: 0300 200 7861
Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm
Find out about call charges
Lost, stolen or malfunctioning driver cards
Driver cards have passed all relevant International Organization for Standardization (ISO) qualified tests and security certification requirements. They are designed to work reliably and securely for their period of validity but, like all cards, can be damaged by abuse. Drivers must take care of their driver card – treating it as if it were a credit card and not subjecting it to excessive force, bending or extremes of temperature.
Where it is impossible to use a driver card (that being when 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 they produce 2 printouts – one at the start of the day and another at the end so long as there is no change of vehicle. Where there is a change of vehicle then a printout will need to be taken at the start and end of the use of vehicle 1 and then a printout at the start and end of vehicle 2 and so on. All printouts must be marked with:
- the driver’s name or driver card or licence number, so the driver can be identified
- any manual entries needed to show periods of other work, availability, and rest or break
- 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 or smart card tachograph
The internal clock of a digital or smart 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). Drivers 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 or smart 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.
A digital or smart tachograph offers the ability for a driver to enter activities carried out by them away from their vehicle. This is by means of the manual input facility in the tachograph. There is however no requirement to make a manual record on a driver card where all the activity has already been captured on an analogue record sheet.
Analogue tachographs do not have a manual input facility so a manual record must be made on the reverse of the record sheet detailing the type of activity and the times started and finished. Further details are given in the section relating to analogue tachographs under the heading of ‘manual records’.
The only time a manual record or entry is legally required is when:
|Activity takes place away from the vehicle and is not possible to use the tachograph.
||Manual record to be kept on analogue record sheet, on printout paper or by manual input on a digital or smart tachograph where possible.
|The tachograph or card malfunctions.
||Manual record must be kept on an analogue record sheet or on printout paper.
|The rules are breached due to an unforeseen event (see page 19).
||Record reasons on a printout or the reverse of a portion of print roll, at the latest on arrival at the suitable stopping place.
|A record needs to be corrected because the incorrect mode has been recorded
||Amend record, including the reason, on a printout or the reverse of a portion of print roll as soon as possible.
Manual records must be kept and produced in the same way as any other record which has been produced using the tachograph.