What Is a Tachograph, and How Do You Use One?

The transport industry has a long road to recovery ahead, as the UK’s departure from the EU – coupled with systemic difficulties relating to the coronavirus pandemic – have rocked the sector considerably. HGV employment has fallen by record levels, with 42,000 less UK nationals employed as HGV drivers compared to 2017.

However, as a result of the issues faced by the industry, there’s never been a better time to become a driver. Driving an HGV is skilled work, and, while hard, can be highly rewarding – not to mention well-recompensed. If you are hoping to gain employment in the industry, or to start your own business in the sector, you’ll need to understand the technology involved in professional truck driving. Here we’ll be looking at the tachograph, a crucial tool for transport companies and for drivers.

What Is A Tachograph?

A tachograph is a device fitted to the dash of a truck or HGV, that records information and metadata about the driver and trip. It is a logging device, that enables transport companies to ensure their drivers are working safely, legally and efficiently.

Tachographs record the number of consecutive hours for which a driver has been on the road, as well as the time and duration of rest breaks between journey legs. They also record vehicle speed as well as journey time. They are a legal requirement for vehicles subject to EU and AETR legislation – specifically, vehicles above 3.5 tonnes that operate in the EU and internationally.

How to Use a Tachograph

Tachographs have been in existence for decades, and changed a fair bit since their first installation in HGV cockpits. Where early tachographs would literally graph information onto paper manually, modern tachographs are digital devices, and can be operated using their facia buttons and LCD display. Operation differs between tachographs, but standard units will require you to enter your unique driver’s card in order to attribute data to your license.

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What to Look For in a Tachograph

While the tachograph is a device with an extremely specific use case, it can also be useful for regular and professional drivers outside the transport industry. For example, if you work with a larger commercial vehicle as a mobile mechanic, installing a tachograph could help you bring down the premium for your mobile mechanic’s insurance.

Whether you are a currently-trading professional or hoping to start your own business, knowing what to look for can help you buy with confidence. Not all tachographs are built equally, and basic models will be missing some features that you might find useful. As a baseline, all tachographs record driving duration, rest times and vehicle speed – but some more premium models will also include digital analysis software that can make sense of the data on your behalf – and identify key areas for improving efficiency.

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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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