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Tachograph Rules for Drivers and Operators

A simple guide about tachometers and tachograph regulations for drivers and haulage operators. Find information on who needs to use a VU and whether tacho exemptions apply to you.

TACHO RULES UK: This section explains road laws for using digital and analogue tachographs.

There is guidance for goods vehicle operators and those who run passenger carrying vehicles. In some cases you also need to use a tachometer in certain light vehicles.

In simple terms, a tachograph records information. Tachos store data of driving times, vehicle speeds, and distances traveled.

UK haulage operators use Vehicle Units (VU) to ensure their staff follow DVSA drivers’ hours rules.

By law, companies must use a tachograph whenever their vehicle comes under EU or AETR driving rules.

AETR stands for Accord Européen sur les Transports Routiers. UK drivers and operators may know it better as the ‘European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport’.

Note: Check whether the rules on EU or AETR driving hours apply to your passenger carrying vehicle or goods vehicles.

VOSA Tachograph Exemptions

There is no need to use a tachograph if EU rules do not cover your vehicle type. The same applies if the vehicle is exempt from EU rules on drivers’ hours.

Different Types of Tachograph Explained

Modern tachographs are digital but there is also an older analogue version. But, all commercial vehicles must have the digital VU if they first got registered on or after the 1st of May 2006.

Digital tachographs save data and information on plastic smart cards. That means haulage operators can check the recordings later. The two different types of card for digital tachos are:

Tachograph Laws: Specialist Technical Information

Help guides on drivers’ hours and tachographs for HGVs and PCVs include the rules on:

  • Analogue tachographs: Proper record keeping and the filling in of ‘centrefield’ entries.
  • Digital tachographs: Using drivers’ cards, lost, stolen or faulty cards, setting the time and manual record keeping.
  • Common rules for all tachographs: ‘Multi-manning’ and keeping 2nd driver records, recording other work, rest-days and days off.
  • Operators’ responsibilities: Calibrating and maintaining tachograph equipment.
  • The consequences of failing to follow tachograph rules.

Note: Specific tachograph regulations apply to horseboxes, trailers, and recovery vehicles. The testing of speed limiter response speeds in vehicles with an analogue tachograph is no longer part of the annual test (from 1st of May 2021).

Tachographs in Light Vehicles

As a rule, tachograph regulations do not apply to light vehicles with a total weight less than 3.5 tonnes. So, most smaller commercial vehicles and 4×4 SUVs do not need them.

Tachograph Installation

Check the guidance given by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency on where to fit a tachograph unit inside a vehicle.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Tachograph Section
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 6pm
Email: [email protected]
Check the cost of making phone calls.

Tachograph Rules Changes (15th of June 2019)

Note: All vehicles first registered from 15 June 2019, and require the fitting of a tachograph, must have type 1C unit tachograph (also called smart tachographs). Failing to have the correct type fitted can result in enforcement action.

Buying or Leasing a Goods Vehicles

Before you buy or lease any vehicle it is worth checking whether it comes under the EU or AETR rules on drivers’ hours. If so, you must ensure that its design allows the fitting of a tachograph.

DVSA can help any drivers who already bought a vehicle and having difficulty fitting a tacho device. They will also inform you as to the location of the nearest Approved Tachograph Centre (ATC).

The specialist centre can offer further advice and help with the installation. But, in some rare cases it may not be possible to install a tachograph to certain older vehicles.

Tachograph Rules and Regulations Explained for the United Kingdom