EU Science Hub

Road safety: the digital tachograph

Tiredness and speeding are common causes of accidents among drivers of lorries and  coaches. To address this issue, the digital tachograph became mandatory in 2006 on all newly registered commercial trucks and buses across the EU. Since 2004, the JRC has been successfully involved in the design and implementation of the digital tachograph. Currently, and as a result of its early commitment, the JRC is responsible for two essential services: the European Root Certification Authority (ERCA) and the Laboratory for Interoperability Certification (DTLab).

The digital tachograph is a mandatory electronic recorder of the professional drivers’ activities, i.e. rest, driving hours and speed. It provides reliable information to the inspectors responsible for enforcing EU policy through road and company checks. 

The JRC manages the ERCA, that generates the top level secret code for the digital tachograph, the so called 'European encrypted root key' used in the authentication processes. ERCA also certifies the keys of national authorities, and generates the keys used in motion sensors, workshop cards and vehicle units. All these keys are needed to guarantee the security of the tachograph system.

The JRC’s DTLab is the only existing laboratory for interoperability certification. It carries out thorough test procedures on the digital tachograph and issues one of the three certifications needed for tachographs to enter the market.