History of the Tachograph

Most people within the transport industry believe that tachographs have been a recent introduction, and so as we are asked a question about tachographs daily, we thought it would be a good idea to do some research into the tachograph.

Tachographs were originally introduced for the trains as a way to record any irregularities, and thus dates back to 1844.

Today they are used to record driving activities to ensure that the correct amount of breaks are being taken by drivers for safety, along with monitoring driving time and other work carried out.

In 1952 Germany made it mandatory for 7.5 tonne vehicles and above to use a tachograph to record drivers working and driving data.

Apart from enforcing regulations, tachographs are often used in Germany to investigate and punish speeding. This practice was approved by the German High Regional Court in the 1990s.

In the UK drivers had to start recording their activities in 1969 using a manual book before any recording equipment was introduced.

In 1985 the EU made it mandatory throughout the EEC for drivers to use a tachograph unit to record their activities from 1986.

Analogue tachographs used a disc and were the first phase of tachographs introduced in the EU and were used as the only way to record the drivers activities until 2006.

The digital tachographs introduction following this, which made tampering much more difficult by sending signals in an encrypted manner. EU regulation 1360/2002 made digital tachographs mandatory for all vehicles manufactured after 1 August 2005.

Digital tachographs have now been required for all new vehicles and from June 2019 the new wave of tachographs know as SMART Tachographs has been introduced in all new manufactured vehicles where drivers hours and records need to be kept.

The European Commission have revised tachograph legislation to make the manipulation of tachograph data harder, improve the efficiency of the control of the system and reduce admin. This has lead to the introduction of the SMART Tachograph.

Smart tachographs have a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) module which automatically records your vehicle location and when the vehicle is being driven.

They are also able to remotely communicate with roadside inspection officers and the owner of the vehicle or employer. Enforcement officers  including the police, and DVSA will be using a REDCR to capture information such as security breaches, the absence of a valid card and the speed recorded by the tachograph while the vehicle is still in motion.

They will be able to detect and time adjustment data, the most recent calibration date and a host of other details.  The smart tachograph itself will be able to tell if the driver card inserted is the most recent card issued to that driver.

If no issues are found, drivers stay on the road and continue their journey uninterrupted – meaning no valuable time is wasted on unnecessary roadside inspections.

Tachographs are now mandatory for vehicles allowed to carry a total weight of over 3.5 tonnes and vehicles built to carry at least 9 passengers, if the vehicle is used for commercial purposes.  All new vehicles within this criteria will now also be fitted with a SMART Tachograph and we will see how this changes the transport industry.

This is definitely a move forwards from where we started out and will hopefully save compliant drivers and operators lots of time.


Smart Motorways

Smart motorways always bring mixed reviews with drivers.

Some say that they are a great idea to assist with the flow of traffic if they are used correctly.

Others say that they are a terrible idea and dangerous because of the lack of a hard shoulder.

Is it not up to the drivers to use them correctly to keep them safe?

How do drivers learn about using them correctly, should it not be down to the public education through TV, social media and learning at driving lessons?

The ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) is used to monitor and manage the busy roads.  The hard shoulder is then used as an additional lane to ease the flow of traffic.

Once the hard shoulder is open the speed limit is shown on the gantry above.

The speed limits are variable depending on traffic flows and if no speed limit is shown in a red circle then national speed limits apply.

If the hard shoulder is not open a red X is displayed on the gantry above and at this point the lane is for emergency use only.

There are bays along the side of the hard shoulder for emergencies and they do ask to try and get into one of the bays when possible.  They provide better protection than the hard shoulder too.

Driving on the hard shoulder is not allowed unless the lane is open for use or in the event of an emergency and you can get fined and receive points if you do this.

In the Traffic Commissioner updates, a HGV driver was given five penalty points and a £655 fine when the car he was blocking in on the hard shoulder turned out to be a police car.

The last tip is to keep left.

When you’re driving along a motorway you should keep left unless you’re overtaking, no matter how many lanes a motorway has.

It’s a simple rule of the Highway Code, but one which some drivers don’t always follow. You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.

The other lanes should only be used for overtaking slower-moving vehicles. Once you’re safely past them, you should return to the left-hand lane.

If you are wanting more information on Smart Motorways we can offer a Driver CPC course that covers this.  Please email info@totalcompliance.co.uk to find out more.

Driver Conduct Hearings

Each year there are around 3,000 drivers who are called to appear in front of the Traffic Commissioner for driver conduct hearings.

Conduct hearings are like a court hearing where the driver can be questioned about the allegations made against them and what has been done to try and rectify the issues.

Drivers that hold a vocational licence are regulated by the Traffic Commissioners in the UK.

Reasons that a conduct hearing maybe called may include the following:

  • Using a mobile phone when driving
  • Speeding
  • Overloaded vehicles
  • Roadside prohibitions
  • Drivers’ hours and tachograph offences

At the conduct hearing the Traffic Commissioner can:

  • Give a warning
  • Suspend your licence
  • Revoke your licence
  • Make you resit your vocational driving test

Below is a recent  case that has been in a conduct hearing:

The Case A HGV driver is convicted of 14 offences of falsification after DVSA investigations revealed serious offences were hidden by false records.

To give one example, a vehicle was stationary for only 7 hours and 47 minutes between two full shifts of a single driver.

The evidence  In this case, the offences have been proven in court. DVSA’s evidence from the investigation is also considered by the Traffic Commissioner.

The driver gets an opportunity to put his case forward. He says he thought the card could be removed if the vehicle wasn’t being used for hire or reward.

He admits taking the tractor unit home on occasions, which was when he removed the card.

The balancing exercise  Mr Rooney (The Traffic Commissioner) does a balancing exercise, weighing up the positive and negative features of the case.

He says the driver has started to learn from the enforcement and regulatory processes. He accepts the driver’s evidence that there’s been no further offending since the investigation.

And the driver was co-operative with DVSA.

The starting points Statutory guidance helps the commissioners to deal with driver conduct cases. It tells them the agreed starting points for different types of offending by drivers.

In the case of false records, the starting point for pulling the card (for more than six offences) is revocation and disqualification for 12 months.

Mr Rooney assesses whether there’s any reason to move away from the starting point.

He says the driving was excessive to the point where it was, at times, clearly dangerous. The driver chose to hide the true facts of his driving, regardless of the motivation.

But this is balanced against the co-operation and learning that’s taken place.

The decision  The Commissioner issues his decision.

Weighing up the evidence, he decides there’s no reason to move away from the starting point.

The driver’s professional licence is revoked and he’s disqualified for 12 months.

This case gives a great example of what does happen when you are not compliant.

When going to the a conduct hearing you may want to consider having some representation.

If you would like any further information about help with this or information, please email us at info@totalcompliance.co.uk or use the contact page on our website https://totalcompliance.co.uk/



MOT Certificates Replaced for FREE!

New changes with all the online services from the government sites means less expensive and easier for us.

DVSA has launched a new free service to allow motorists to replace a lost, stolen or damaged MOT certificate.

The service can be used to get MOT certificate copies for cars, vans and motorcycles. Copies for lorries, buses and coaches will be available later in 2019.

You’ll need your vehicle’s registration and 11 digit vehicle logbook (VC5) reference number to use it.

It is still possible to get a copy MOT certificate from your MOT testing station. But this will carry a charge of up to £10.

If you want to find out more or use this service use the link below:


If you need any help with your maintenance system or compliance with your maintenance for your operator licence, feel free to email us on info@totalcompliance.co.uk



How do you manage Work Related Road Risk (WRRR)?

More than a quarter of incidents on the road involve someone who is at work and so is driving for part of their job.

Health and safety laws apply to all duties that are part of employees role, and that includes driving, so how do you manage the risks?

There are many ways to do this from training, risk assessments and method statements, all of which can help promote fewer incidents, reducing injuries, along with reducing stress to improve mental health.

The health and safety law does not however, apply to people commuting (ie travelling between their home and their usual place of work), unless they are travelling from their home to somewhere which is not their usual place of work.

Employers have duties under health and safety law for on-the-road work activities. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974  states you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities. The self-employed have similar responsibilities.

‘So far as reasonably practicable’ means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk.

A starting point is to plan and complete risk assessments.  If you are not able to do these yourself, there are lots of companies like ourselves that can come in and help you.

Risk assessment is about identifying and taking sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace, not about creating huge amounts of paperwork. You may already be taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will help you decide whether you should be doing more. The aim is to make the risk of someone being injured or killed as low as possible.

Identifying the hazards would be the next stage, whereby you look at the the road environment and the potential risk.

Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that harm will occur. You are not expected to eliminate all risks, but you must make sure you know about the main risks and how to manage them responsibly.

You need to do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm. That means putting things in place to reduce the risk to as many people as possible and eliminate risk where you can.

Record all your findings and review these on a regular basis as things change.  This is normally done yearly however this does depend on the type of work you are doing.

For help with managing your WRRR or any aspect of health and safety, please contact us on info@totalcompliance.co.uk or call Jonathan Scott who is our NEBOSH qualified health and safety consultant on 07720 875002.




Operators who show complacency towards licensing

There are no circumstances when a company should put their commercial interests above that of compliance or health and safety.

Time and time again we hear from operators that say they cannot do things that are essential because they need vehicles on the road, customer expectations and so on.

It is not until something happens that we often get called in to assist.  Better that some realisation occurs and normally something makes an operator think about their actions and possible consequences.

At the end of it all, if you are not compliant then you can end up with no operator licence and therefore, no business.

On the other side, it may cost you time and some money to get everything in order and systems in place, but once it is done, it is a much easier path to follow as you are thinking in a proactive way and not a reactive way.

When an operator is called to the Traffic Commissioner they only take action against operators to encourage or improve future compliance.

In serious cases they have to act accordingly and so can take the licence away to stop future operations and avoid ongoing non-compliance.

In other situations, the commissioner may take action against the licence and agree a number of measures with the operator to make sure they’ll prioritise compliance going forward.

Last year a construction company appeared before the Traffic Commissioner and made promises to improve and become compliant.

However at their second public inquiry, the construction company had their licence suspended and got them to commit to various undertakings. Again this is what happened:

Broken promises

Disappointingly, they broke those promises.

And so the business found itself back at public inquiry – for a third time.

The Deputy Commissioner had specifically warned them in 2018 about the consequences. She said the operator needed to demonstrate honesty in actions, not just words.

At the latest hearing, the company’s director admitted he got his priorities wrong.

Huge disappointment

The Deputy Commissioner said it was staggering that the company put commercial interests over compliance given its previous record.

While the state of the operation had improved, it was still significantly short of being satisfactory.

Revoking the licence, the Deputy Commissioner expressed her huge disappointment at the situation.

Trust, she added, is the cornerstone of the operator licence regime.

Following this the Director will have to live with the consequences of their actions, but as we know you cannot change what has happened and they should have taken the required action.

If you have an operator licence and want to check that all is compliant and nothing is being missed or if you are in a mess with it all, put it right today.

Please email info@totalcompliance.co.uk if you need any help or call Michelle on 07710 878041.

FORS Passes First Time

With the ever increasing demand for help, we have an ever increasing number of operators passing first time on their FORS audit and becoming FORS Bronze accredited.

We have been working with lots of operators from all types of industries that have passed in the last few weeks and all, first time. Even if you have put the documents together yourself it could be worthwhile having a consultant check over them to ensure that nothing has been missed or overlooked and avoid the potentially inconvenience of a fail and re-audit.

These operators are from all over England as we travel to help and can also be there with you on audit if an operator would like that to help.

The policies and procedures are written to adapt to your company and we go through everything so that all information is understood and implemented.

There are also e-learning modules online for drivers to complete and we have been organising these and sitting with drivers that are not happy using the computer themselves so they increase skills in all areas.

We have also been able to deliver FORS training which also counts towards the Driver CPC hours – Safe Urban Driving (SUD) and LoCity.

FORS will benefit operators who want to do the following and assist in gaining additional business:

  • Improve road safety
  • Reduce the incidence of fines and other charges
  • Reduce fuel emissions and enhance fuel efficiency
  • Gain greater industry intelligence and networking opportunities
  • Stand out from the crowd

If you want the FORS accreditation quickly and need to put all policies and procedures in place for your operation please get in touch as we are here to help. We often work to quick deadlines if you have an urgent need or contract which needs FORS or if you have an audit coming up and need an appraisal prior to the audit date we could help.

Contact Jonathan on 07720 875002 or Michelle on 07710 875002 or email info@totalcompliance.co.uk for more information.