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.


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