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How to read digital tachograph printouts?

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Key Takeaways

Digital tachograph vehicle units (VUs) record a range of data relating to vehicle use (including driving time, speed and distance) and driver activity. Drivers must use their VU to record driving periods, work, periods of availability, break and rest periods, and so on in order to provide an accurate account of their activity when requested.


Each driver must have a personal digital tachograph card, in order to reduce the risk of fraudulent or inaccurate data. This data can also be viewed on computers using the appropriate software.

There are different types of tachograph printouts – for example, some provide data relating to the VU itself over a particular time period and others data from individual drivers’ cards. The data contained on tachograph printouts include the date and time of printing, cardholder/vehicle details, calibration details, vehicle and driver activity, odometer readings and a summary of total vehicle/driver activities.


Q: Are drivers ever required to make manual records of their activities?

A. Yes. Drivers must make accurate records of their activities while they’re working, and must provide this whenever it is requested of them. However, it may be that their digital tachograph unit is malfunctioning or that an incorrect record has been made. A manual record must therefore be made and provided to ensure that the overall record of the driver’s activities is an accurate one.


Q: What about those who drive both vehicles equipped with digital tachographs and those equipped with analogue units?

A: Drivers must be able to produce tachograph records covering the current day’s working activity and the previous 28 days. Those who work across different vehicles that are equipped with analogue and digital tachographs must be able to produce, when requested, digital tachograph printouts (plus any manual records), analogue tachograph charts and also driver cards. These records must be stored securely so that they cannot be interfered with and can then be produced on request.


Q: What happens when a driver's card is lost, stolen or faulty?

A: Drivers who have been issued with a card that has been lost or stolen, or has become faulty, must apply within seven days to the DVLA (in England) for a replacement. In the meantime, they can continue to operate a vehicle fitted with a digital tachograph. In these circumstances, drivers must issue a printout at the start of each working day and at the end of working hours. These printouts must be kept for inspection for the next 28 calendar days. Once that 28-day period has expired, the printouts must then be handed to the vehicle operator, which is required to store them for a further 12 months. Drivers must write their name and licence number on the back of each digital tachograph printout, and sign it.


Q: Whose responsibility is it to ensure that there is sufficient paper for the VU printer?

A: Employers and drivers are both required to ensure that VUs are equipped sufficient supplies of print rolls so that tachograph printouts can be issued when necessary. However, drivers must ensure that they have at least one spare roll of printer paper in their vehicle with them. VOSA traffic examiners can ask drivers to prove that they have a spare print roll with them in the vehicle. Those drivers who cannot produce one when requested to do so are likely to be issued with a fixed penalty.


Q: Under what circumstances are tachograph printouts a legal requirement?

A: Printouts are legally required under three main scenarios. The first of these is when the driver card is damaged, lost or stolen (as we’ve already touched on). Secondly, printouts are also mandatory where a driver is forced to record the details of an emergency which has forced them to breach the ordinary rules (such as drivers’ hours regulations, for example). Printouts are also legally required whenever an enforcement officer requests one. After the initial 28-day period also mentioned above, all legally required printouts must be kept - in a legible condition - by vehicle operators for a minimum of 12 months, to ensure compliance with EU drivers’ hours regulations.

* Disclaimer – the information offered in this article is a representation of driver hours laws at the time of publishing, you should seek independent advice or reference the governments website prior to implementing any processes.