Until May 2006, commercial vehicles were fitted with an analogue tachograph. However, since May 1st 2006, all newly registered commercial vehicles of 3.5 tonnes upwards have been equipped with a digital tachograph (unless exempt).

From 2019, digital tachograps fitted to new vehicles allow ‘roadside interrogation’ of certain details, but this will not be a mandatory retrofit. These tachographs automate the recording of the daily journey start and end location, by use of satellite tracking.

If you haven’t already done so, you should apply for a digital tachograph Driver Card, because without one you are unable to operate a digital tachograph. You will also need training on how to operate a digital tachograph, and understand the requirements for record-keeping etc. Your Driver Hire office will be able to help you with this.


It is the driver’s responsibility to use the tachograph throughout each driving day to properly record driving time, periods of other work, periods of availability and breaks from driving/work. These records must be made on a chart of the correct type for the tachograph fitted in each vehicle used.

Drivers must carry with them during each driving day (and be able to show an enforcement officer if requested to do so) all completed records for the current day plus those generated in the previous 28 days. You should also carry with you records to show what you were doing on days you when were not driving.

Completed tachograph records must be handed in to your Driver Hire office or the client as soon as possible and in any case, by law, back to the operator within 42 days.

Use of Digital Tachographs

The key parts of the digital tachograph Vehicle Unit (VU):

  1. The visual display unit
  2. Driver 1 keypad
  3. Driver 1 card slot
  4. Operator’s download interface
  5. Driver 2 keypad
  6. Driver 2 card slot (double-manned vehicles)
  7. Unlock button for the printer drawer
  8. Tear-off edge for the printer paper
  9. Menu button



Driving Time and Rest Periods – EC561/2006 – Drivers’ Hours Rules

Summary of rules and hours limits

The standard limit on driving time in a working day is 9 hours. This standard driving time limit may be extended to 10 hours on any two days of the working week. No compensation is required.


Driving time must not exceed 56 hours in any one week, and may be no more than 90 hours in total in a fortnight.


A 45-minute break must be taken after 4.5 hours’ continuous driving time. If you take a break at any point during the 4.5 hours of driving, the first period must be at least 15 minutes in duration and the second period must be at least 30 minutes.


During any 24-hour period a daily rest period must be taken:
• Minimum duration is 11 hours
• This can be reduced to 9 hours on no more than three occasions between two weekly rest periods (no compensation required)
• Daily rest can be split into two periods. In this case, the first must be at least 3 hours and the second at least 9 hours, so that the total daily rest period, if split, becomes 12 hours


After six 24-hour periods since your last weekly rest period a new one must begin. The weekly rest period must be a minimum of 45 hours.
This may be reduced to a minimum of 24 hours (whether at base or away from base) once in any two weeks. Any reduction must be compensated for in full, in a single block attached to a rest period of no less than 9 hours, before the end of the third fixed week following. The full weekly rest period may no longer be taken in the vehicle, unless parked at a formal rest area such as a truckstop. Any rest period must remain ‘uninterrupted’. This means if you undertake any other paid work, the whole rest period must be repeated.


Used to record ‘Periods of Availability’ – see section on Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 (page 26).


Used to record ‘other work’, defined as all working time except driving, including any work undertaken for the same or another employer.


The digital tachograph Driver Card

The Driver Card is inserted into the VU. It stores information about your working day including the vehicle you’re driving, the date and times you’re working, vehicle speed, distance travelled and duties undertaken e.g. driving, other work and Periods of Availability (POAs).

As well as the Driver Card, there are three other different operational cards:

  • The Company Card enables operators to download data stored in the VU
  • The Enforcement Card is held by the Police and DVSA and allows full access to all data stored on the VU in the event of a roadside enforcement check
  • The Workshop Card is held by DVLA approved workshops recommended by DVSA

Applying for a card

Driver Cards are issued on application to the DVLA. The driver and operator need to complete form D777B, available from the DVLA in Swansea. Both cards are valid for a five-year period.

Lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning cards

It is illegal to drive a vehicle fitted with a digital tachograph without a card (unless it is an exempt journey). If you forget your card you cannot drive the vehicle.

If your card is lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning you must report this to the DVLA within 7 days and apply for a new card. In the event of theft, it must also be reported to the police and a crime reference number obtained. You may then drive the vehicle for up to 15 days without a card being present. You must however take a print out from the VU at the beginning and end of each shift, fill in your licence details and sign it.

Downloading responsibilities

The Driver Card stores (on average) 28 days of data and the vehicle unit stores up to 365 days of data. Data from the card should be downloaded at regular intervals. These are specified in The Passenger and Goods Vehicles (Recording Equipment) (Downloading and Retention of Data) Regulations 2008. It is recommended that operators read and understand the details of this legislation in order to comply with the rules.

Drivers’ responsibilities

Whenever an inspecting officer requests them, you will have to produce your record sheets (tacho charts and digital printouts) for the current day, those used in the previous 28 calendar days and your digital tachograph Driver Card.

Daily print out and handwritten entries

You can obtain a daily print out reflecting your day’s activities. It is particularly relevant to those working in a mixed fleet operation or in the event of the card becoming lost, damaged, stolen or malfunctioning. You should (under guidance from your Driver Hire office) take a number of printouts from the digital tachograph. As a minimum these should include a copy for your records, a copy for your Driver Hire office and in the event of the card becoming lost, stolen, malfunctioning or damaged, a copy for the client.

Should the VU malfunction, if you work away from the vehicle or enter an incorrect mode into the VU, then handwritten amendments can be made on the reverse of the paper roll. A spare printer roll must be carried in the vehicle – it is the responsibility of the operator to provide this, and the driver must check that a spare roll is present.

Universal Time Co-ordinated (UTC)

The digital tachograph records all working time in UTC. UTC is a worldwide standard of time measurement. This means that in British Summer Time (BST), when the clocks change and go forward an hour, drivers need to remember that there will be a one-hour time difference between the times recorded by the digital tachograph. For example, a driver starting at 7am BST would see the time displayed as 6am on the digital print outs. So when reading digital records and completing time sheets, both drivers and operators should bear this in mind to avoid possible errors.

Use of Analogue Tachographs

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the tachograph clock is set to the correct UK local time before starting any journey (remember that the tachograph is a 24 hour instrument whereas its clock has only a 12 hour display).

Tachograph charts are legal documents: complete them fully, use the Mode switch properly, and handle them carefully.

The working week

The ‘fixed’ working week is a 7-day calendar week extending from 00:00 hrs on Monday to 24:00 hrs on Sunday.

The working day and daily rest

Tachograph rules and hours limits are based on a 24-hour time period which starts when you begin an assignment. So if you begin an assignment at 07.00 hours, the 24-hour time period starts at 07.00 hours. The first part of the time period (of variable length, from start to finish of duty) forms the working day, while the second portion must be taken as daily rest and is defined by the rest hours limits.

Guidance on completing analogue tachograph chart entries

  • Ensure that written entries do not go beyond the centrefield or overwrite and deface the tachograph traces (move them to one side away from the traces if extra space is needed)
  • Place names should be specific, recognisable and not abbreviated
  • Start and finish duty times/lines on chart are not a legal requirement but they usefully define the start of each 24-hour time frame and the length of each daily rest period (EDR = End Daily Rest. SDR = Start Daily Rest)
  • There is no legal requirement for actual journey distance (one odometer figure subtracted from the other) to be entered
  • A label inside the tachograph head will show an ‘E’ number and type code. Charts that are valid for use in that tachograph will have a matching ‘E’ number and code on the back

How to complete a analogue tachograph chart

Using the Mode switch

  • Select to record driving time (if this symbol is available on the Mode switch)
  • Normally the  symbol position is used to record other work (or driving time if the  is not available)
  • Use  to record ‘Periods of Availability’ – see section on Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations
  • Select  to record breaks from driving/work during the driving day, and to record daily rest between working days when away from base (the chart should not be left in the tachograph when daily rest is taken at home base)