Mobility and Transport




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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 (EU) N° 165/2014 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).

New regulation

Regulation (EEC) N° 3821/85 has been updated by Regulation (EU) N° 165/2014 which introduces the smart tachograph, which will be installed in vehicles registered for the first time as from 15 June 2019, will be fitted with the following new and advanced features:

  • better security mechanisms to make fraud more difficult and reduce the administrative burden, which is expected to save companies €515 million per year;
  • an interface with the satellite navigation systems (GNSS), especially Galileo and EGNOS European GNSS Agency ;
  • a remote communication facility to communicate the tachograph data to a police enforcer on the roadside when the vehicle is moving, thus avoiding unnecessary stops for checking;
  • an ITS interface to link the tachograph with other ITS applications.

By ensuring better compliance with rules on driving times and rest periods, drivers will be better protected and fair competition will be assured.

On 18 March 2016, the Commission adopted the implementing Regulation EU 2016/799, defining the technical specifications for the smart tachograph.

Former generations of digital tachographs: 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 , that the new specifications in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1266/2009 apply 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 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

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