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The tachograph is a device that records the driving time, breaks, rest periods as well as periods of other work undertaken by a driver. Council Regulation (EEC) 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport provides the basis for the tachograph. This aimed at helping to enforce the rules on driving times and rest periods and monitor the driving times of professional drivers in order to prevent fatigue, and guarantee fair competition and road safety.

Since 2006, tachographs are digital, which allows a more secure and accurate recording and storage of data than the previous analogue tachograph. This device records all the vehicle’s activities, for example distance, speed and driving times and rest periods of the driver. The system includes a printer for use in road side inspections and the driver has a card incorporating a microchip, which the driver must insert into the tachograph when taking control of the vehicle. This personal driver card ensures that inspections remain simple.

It is obligatory to install a digital tachograph in new vehicles having a mass of more than 3,5 tonnes (in goods transport) and carrying more than 9 persons including the driver (in passenger transport).

Proposal for a regulation

The European Commission proposed on 19 July 2011 to revise the tachograph legislation to make fraud more difficult and reduce the administrative burden, which is expected to save companies €515 million per year. By ensuring better compliance with rules on driving times and rest periods, drivers will be better protected and fair competition will be assured. The current legislation needs updating to make full use of new technological opportunities like satellite positioning.

Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1266/2009 on Digital Tachographs

Commission Regulation (EU) No 1266/2009  aims at modernising digital tachographs. This legislation contributes to better protection against fraud and to provide more accurate recording, and it requires Member States to use a common electronic data exchange system. The legislation is also expected to save the road transport industry millions of Euros each year by making the tachographs easier to use.

The Commission services clarified, in a letter dated 19 July 2010 pdf - 208 KB [208 KB] , that the new specifications in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1266/2009 applies to all tachographs activated as from 1 October 2011. The letter also confirmed that field tests can be done before type approval of the new equipment on the basis of article 3 g) of Regulation (EC) 561/2006.

Field tests of new tachographs

The Commission has published a procedure to follow for manufacturers who want to proceed to a field test of new models of digital tachographs before their formal type approval. The relevant information can be found on the European Commission's Digital Tachograph website.

Measures to prevent fraud

In order to prevent the threat posed by the installation of devices intended to defraud the digital tachograph, the Commission adopted on 23 January 2009 a package of measures български (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv) aimed at detecting and preventing abuses of the system. The package aims at improving the enforcement of the regulation. In particular, it provides better equipment for enforcement and guidelines to help police officers to prevent and detect the manipulation of Digital Tachographs.

Manipulating the tachograph is considered a very serious infringement. Sanctions leading to the loss of the Community licence and the right to operate a road transport undertaking are foreseen by Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 on admission to the occupation of road haulage, to punish this practice.


Commission decision of 7.6.2012 authorising the United Kingdom to grant exemptions from the application of Article 3(1) of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport pdf - 19 KB [19 KB]

Detailed questions on the implementation of the recording equipment can be addressed to the Helpdesk on Digital Tachograph

Related documents


Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on tachographs in road transport, repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport

Commission Directive 2009/4/EC of 23 January 2009 on counter measures to prevent and detect manipulation of records of tachographs, amending Directive 2006/22/EC

Commission Regulation (EU) No 1266/2009 of 16 December 2009 adapting for the tenth time to technical progress Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport (OJ L339, 22/12/2009, page 3)

Commission Regulation (EC) No 68/2009 of 23 January 2009 adapting for the ninth time to technical progress Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport

Council Regulation (EC) No 2135/98 of 24 September 1998 amending Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport and Directive 88/599/EEC concerning the application of Regulations (EEC) No 3820/84 and (EEC) No 3821/85

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 of 20 December 1985 on recording equipment in road transport

Other references

Commission Recommendation of 23 January 2009 on guidelines for best enforcement practice concerning checks of recording equipment to be carried out at roadside checks and by authorised workshops

Press Release - Digital tachograph for road transport: new measures to prevent fraud and equip light vehicles български (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv) [IP/09/80 , 23/01/2009]


Euro Côntrole Route - Group of national road control authorities collaborating to improve the quality of enforcement

EU Digital Tachograph Website

List of workshops