Under EU and national law, trucks over 3.5 tonnes and buses with more
than 9 seats must be fitted with recording devices known as tachographs. Their
function is to record the driving times, breaks and rest periods of individual
drivers. It also logs vehicle speed, distance travelled and other information.
The records must be available for inspection by enforcement officers.
Some classes of vehicle are
exempt from the EU rules on tachograph and driving times, breaks and
rest periods. Drivers who are exempt should still keep a record of their total
daily working activity.
Digital tachographs became mandatory in new commercial trucks and buses in May 2006.
The provision of driver cards for use by drivers, companies, calibration workshops and enforcement officers is central to digital tachographs.
Data is stored in the vehicle unit memory and on driver smart cards. The data contains a range of information including distance covered, vehicle speed (for previous 24 hours of driving), vehicle licence number, and driver activity (driving, rest, breaks, other work, periods of availability).
A driver’s card can store information for a maximum of 28 days before it begins to be overwritten; the vehicle unit has a larger memory capacity and can store data for 365 days.
The analogue tachograph records your driving information via three styluses that cut traces into a circular, wax-coated chart, or tacho. These marks act as a record of your speed, distance travelled and your working activity.
The analogue tachograph chart also contains areas for manual entries, measuring activities such as your daily working period, rest periods and work done outside of the vehicle.
When a driver takes over a goods or passenger vehicle, they must insert the
driver card into the digital tachograph unit. Where a vehicle is double-manned,
both driver and co-driver must use a card.
Similar to an analogue tachograph, a digital tachograph will record a
driver’s activities such as driving, other work, breaks and rest. Digital
tachographs start recording automatically when the vehicle moves.
Drivers must use the mode switch (a manual input facility) on the tachograph
to record other activities including rests, breaks and other periods of
availability. The records are only stored on the driver card. Drivers don't
need to manually enter activities recorded on analogue charts onto their driver
A transport operator must download data from the card every 21 days and the Vehicle Unit every 3 months. The data should be retained for inspection by enforcement officers for at least 1 year from the date of downloading.
To download data from the vehicle unit and driver card, an operator will need a download device and a company card.
Operators are responsible for making sure drivers return their charts, if
they are employing agency drivers. They should download data from the drivers'
tachograph cards and retain that data for inspection.
For information on digital-tachograph training please contact: The Chartered
Institute of Logistics and Transport of Ireland Tel: 01 676-3188 www.cilt.ie
The RSA is responsible for enforcing EU and national transport legislation on tachographs, EU driver hour rules, Road transport working time directive elements of the licensing of road haulage and passenger operators to engage in hire and reward operations and drivers CPC. Since 2009 the RSA have initiated
prosecutions against drivers and operators in respect of
breaches of this legislation details of which can be found on the prosecutions section of the RSA website.