There are many different types of tachographs and if you are not familiar with the types you use, or could
be asked to use, then you run the risk of accidentally not recording your breaks. So, it is always worth knowing how to operate them.

I speak from experience; I was once driving a truck with a type of tachograph I was unfamiliar with, and ended up having my 45 minute break only to discover it hadn’t recorded it because I’d pressed the wrong button.

A schoolboy error you might – rightly – say, and an error that taught me a valuable lesson; learn how to use the tachograph!

Some drivers still do not see the benefit of tachograph. They were labelled a ‘spy in the cab’ in the late 1970s when made mandatory in the UK. But they are there for the driver’s safety and, more so, the
safety of others.

Not following drivers’ hours regulations is a serious offence and rightly so. Initially tachos were analogue.

A circular card was placed in the tacho head and a needle recorded the time the truck was being driven and the speeds it reached, and also recorded the time it was stationary – times when the driver was – in theory – having their statutory break periods.

The old system was open to abuse and corruption and from August 2005 digital tachos have been fitted to all new vehicles. The old analogue tachos are still legal if the vehicle was new with one.

There are three main functions for the tacho. They are to record driving time – when the vehicle is on the move and under the control of the driver – record other work – time the vehicle is stopped but the driver is actually working – such as supervising loading and unloading or undertaking their daily walk round check – and finally rest periods. These are when the truck is stopped and the driver is at rest either in the cab/on the bunk or away from the vehicle.

Tachos have slots for two cards for when the truck is being double manned and two drivers are sharing the driving.

The main symbols you will be familiar with are the drive, the work and rest icons. The drive icon is a round circle with a spot in it, the other work icon is a crossed hammer the rest icon is a bed.

Because of the unpredictable nature of the logistics industry, most drivers will often arrive at the destination, prepare the truck for loading or unloading and then pop their tacho on break.

On most tachos this is done by pressing the 1 button – or of you are the second driver, then the 2 button.

This will change the icon from drive to other work but pressing it again makes it change to recoding a rest period.

When you are on break, you must ensure the bed icon is shown and you must be familiar with the type of tachograph.

There are three main manufacturers; Stoneridge Digital Tachograph, VDO (Siemens or Continental) Digital Tachograph and Actia Digital Tachograph.

Each is different in its operation and you need to be familiar with each type fitted in your fleet.

There are also other icons –I suggest you download a free guide from – for a full list of the icons.

It would be worth printing off this pdf and keeping it in your cab, or putting the pdf on your tablet or smartphone.


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