We and our third party partners use technology such as cookies on our site. This is to give you a better experience, analyse how you and other visitors use this website and show you relevant, tailored advertisements. By using this website you agree to the use of cookies. You can read our Cookies Policy using the link in the footer of this page.

Accept cookies

A drivers guide to driving in the UK
Bus DriversCar DriversCrane DriversHGV DriversBike RidersQuad BikesTaxi DriversTractor Drivers

HGV Tacographs And LGV Tacograph Information

The uses of a tacograph in Large Goods Vehicles and the time limits for driving and the breaks necessary by EU Laws.


Driving Times

HGV Tachographs

Tachographs are devices that record information about driving time, speed and distance. This information is used to monitor compliance with drivers’ hours rules.

If you drive a bus, coach, lorry or other vehicle under the European Union (EU) drivers’ hours rules or the European Agreement concerning the work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) drivers’ hours rules, you will almost always need to use a tachograph.

There are two types of tachograph: analogue and digital. Analogue tachographs record the driver’s periods of duty on a wax-coated paper disc, while digital tachographs store the information on an electronic ’smart card’.

By law, all commercial vehicles first registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with digital tachographs. However, you can continue to operate an analogue tachograph in any vehicle registered before that date.

The main difference between analogue and digital tachographs is that digital tachographs use a smart card to record data instead of the round record sheets or charts used in analogue tachographs.

Analogue tachographs

The analogue tachograph records your driving information using three styluses that cut traces into a circular, wax-coated chart. They measure the:

• Speed of the vehicle
• Distance travelled by the vehicle
• Driver activity, also known as the ’mode’

The analogue tachograph also contains areas for manual entries, measuring activities such as:

•The entire daily working period
•Any rest periods
•Any work done outside the vehicle

Digital tachographs

Digital tachographs consist of two visible parts inside the vehicle - the vehicle unit (VU) and the speedometer. The VU receives a signal from a sender unit located in the vehicle’s gearbox. This signal is then sent from the VU to the speedometer unit where the driver can see it.

The VU is always set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). All records are set against this time.

The VU holds the system memory, including data about:

•All drivers of the vehicle and their periods of driving for about 12 months
•Any faults that have occurred
•Any attempts to tamper with the system
•Vehicle speeding
•Calibration details, when the tachograph is checked at an approved calibration centre
•When it has been accessed by control officers from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) or the police
Smart cards

In addition to storing data on the VU, digital tachographs also store your driving and vehicle data separately on a plastic, credit card-sized card known as a smart card.

Four types of smart cards that can be used by digital tachographs:

•Driver cards - for drivers
•Company cards - for operators
•Workshop cards - for approved calibration centres only
•Control cards - for VOSA and police enforcement use only

A smart card is valid for five years. If it is lost, stolen or stops working during that period, a new card will be issued for the same validity period as the original.

HGV Tacographs

Driver smart cards

By law, you must use a driver smart card if you are driving any vehicle under EU driver’s hours rules that is fitted with a digital tachograph.

You are only allowed to hold one driver smart card. You must never use someone else’s card, or allow another driver to use yours.

You can apply for smart cards at your local Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) office or by calling the DVLA.

Driving Times

‘Driving time’ is the duration of driving activity recorded either by the recording equipment or manually when the recording equipment is broken.

Even a short period of driving under EU rules during any day by a driver will mean that he is in scope of the EU rules for the whole of that day and must comply with the daily driving, break and rest requirements; he will also have to comply with the weekly rest requirement and driving limit.


After a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes, unless he takes a rest period. A break taken in this way must not be interrupted. For example:

Driving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutes Driving 2.5 hours Other work 1 hour Driving 2 hours Break 45 minutes

A break is any period during which a driver may not carry out any driving or any other work and which is used exclusively for recuperation. A break may be taken in a moving vehicle, provided no other work is undertaken.
Alternatively, a full 45-minute break can be replaced by one break of at least 15 minutes followed by another break of at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be distributed over the 4.5-hour period. Breaks of less than 15 minutes will not contribute towards a qualifying break, but neither will they be counted as duty or driving time. The EU rules will only allow a split-break pattern that shows the second period of break being at least 30 minutes, such as the following examples:

Driving 2 hoursBreak 15 minutes Driving 2.5 hours Break 30 minutes Driving 2 hours Break 34 minutesDriving 2.5 hoursBreak 30 minutes

The following split-break pattern is illegal, because the second break is less than 30 minutes.

Driving 2 hours Break 30 minutes Driving 2.5 hours Break 15 minutes

A driver ‘wipes the slate clean’ if he takes a 45-minute break (or qualifying breaks totalling 45 minutes) before or at the end of a 4.5-hour driving period. This means that the next 4.5-hour period begins with the completion of that qualifying break, and in assessing break requirements for the new 4.5-hour period, no reference is to be made to driving time accumulated before this point. For example:

Driving 1.5 hours Break 15 minutes Driving 1.5 hoursBreak 30 minutesDriving 4.5 hours Break 45 minutes

Daily driving limit

The maximum daily driving time is 9 hours; for example:

Driving 2 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 2.5 hours

Driving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 4.5 hours

This can be increased to 10 hours twice a week; for example:

Driving 2 hours Break 45 minutesDriving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 3.5 hours

Driving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 4.5 hoursBreak 45 minutesDriving 1 hour

Daily driving time is:

• the total accumulated driving time between the end of one daily rest period and the beginning
of the following daily rest period; or
• the total accumulated driving time between a daily rest period and a weekly rest period.

Note: Driving time includes any off-road parts of a journey where the rest of that journey is made on
the public highway. Journeys taking place entirely off road would be considered as ’other work’.

So, for example, any time spent driving off road between a parking/rest area and a loading bay prior to
travelling on a public road would constitute driving time, but it would be regarded as other work where
an entire load is picked up and deposited on the same off-road site.

Weekly driving limit
The maximum weekly driving limit is 56 hours, which applies to a fixed week
The following is an example of how this might be achieved:

SunMonTueWedThuFri Sat
Weekly rest 9 hours’driving 10 hours’driving 9 hours’driving 10 hours’ driving 9 hours’driving 9 hours’driving Weekly rest

Total weekly hours = (4 x 9) + (2 x 10) = 56.

The fixed week starts at 00.00 on Monday and ends at 24.00 on the following Sunday.

Home | Contact us | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Cookie Policy |   © 2019 UK Webwise.com Limited