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Tachograph Rules and Offences

Tachographs record the speed of a vehicle and whether it is stationary or mobile at any given time, and are subject to strict regulations.

Tachographs are mandatory within the road haulage industry, where their primary legal use is by officials enforcing rules regarding working hours for drivers.

Because of the legal requirement for tachographs and the importance of the records, it is against the law to tamper with the device or its data, or falsify any related information. It is also illegal not to fit a tachograph to a vehicle which requires one by law.

What are the daily driving limits?

Generally, you can drive no more than 9 hours in a single day. You can exceed this limit on occasion, and drive for 10 hours, but you can only do this twice during a single week – a week for these purposes being the period of a week from 12:00am on Monday morning.

In addition to these daily limits, you cannot drive for more than 4 and a half hours in one go – once you have driven for this long, you must stop and take a break of at least 45 minutes, regardless of how many more driving minutes you have to spare during that day.

The breaks can be broken up, as long as you take at least 45 minutes break per 4 ½ hour drive – for instance, you could take a 15 minute break after 2 hours, then 30 minutes after another 2 ½ hours driving.

The driver must also have at least 11 hours of free time and rest, during which he or she does no type of work for any employer. Again, this limit is not absolute – it can be lowered to 9 in a single day, but only three times in a week, and if the time is made up during the following week.

Daily rest periods can be spent on the vehicle, as long as it has a bunk and is not moving; if two drivers are sharing driving duties, a daily rest period would not count if one driver rests on the vehicle while the other continues to drive.

Ensuring that these limits are observed is the responsibility of both the driver and his or her employer – failure to observe them could put the driver and other road users in danger.

Tachograph Tampering

The punishment for tampering with a tachograph in any fashion is up to two years in prison, as well as an unlimited fine. If a vehicle covered by the relevant regulations is found not to have had a tachograph installed in the first place, those responsible could find themselves facing a fine of up to £50,000.

Vehicles which must have tachographs installed include heavy goods vehicles (7.5 tonnes or more), vehicles which can transport more than 12 people, and public service vehicles. In order to be considered sufficient, a tachograph is required to record the following information:

  • distance
  • speed
  • breaks and daily rest periods
  • driving time
  • other periods of work
  • the opening of the case containing the record sheet
  • any interruptions of the electrical supply which provides power to the speed and distance sensor.

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