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Digital Tachograph Overview

 What is a Digital Tachograph?

This radio sized device became legally required in all new vehicles sold after May 1st 2006. It replaces the analogue tachograph and has its own event memory.

  • Stores 365 days of information
  • Has an unchanging internal time clock set to UTC (Universal Time Co-ordinated), which is the same as GMT (Grenwich Mean Time). This time does not change when the clocks change and is therefore 1 hour different to local time, in the UK, during the summer.
  • Has a Local Time display, which can be changed by the operator when the clocks go back and forward.
  • Recommended once a month downloads
  • Designed to be used in conjunction with a Digital Tachograph Card, instead of the analogue paper tachograph chart.


 How do they Operate?

The Digital Tachograph uses the same main four modes as the analogue tachograph did, these are:



 Driving Mode

As with the later Analogue Tachographs, Driving Mode automatically selects when the vehicle is moving. The above symbol is displayed in the Digitach screen when the vehicle is moving. This symbol also appears on the display screen and on printouts to symbolise periods of driving.


Rest Mode

The bed symbol should be selected to illustrate Rest Breaks and Daily Rest, unlike common practise with Analogue Tachographs it is acceptable to leave the Digicard in over night (if the driver is on a night out in the cab) and select the bed symbol.

It is still acceptable to remove the Digicard to mark a daily rest period, once the card is removed a period of rest is assumed.


Other Work

The crossed-hammer symbol represents a period of work by the driver that is not driving, examples of this are:

  • Doing the Daily Vehicle Defect Check / Walk around
  • Un-loading the vehicle
  • Completing paperwork
  • all periods not covered by Rest, Periods of Availability and Driving

Many Digital Tachographs have other work set as the default mode, so, for example, following a period of Driving, the tachograph will automatically return to Other Work, regardless of the mode selected prior to the period of driving.


Period of Availability (POA)

This mode of operation is the newest of the four and was introduced in line with the Working Time Directive. POA does not count towards the Working Time Directive and should be selected during periods of waiting the length of which are known before-hand, examples are:

  • Arriving at a delivery point and being informed of a two hour wait.
  • Being early to a regular delivery slot and knowing that you will not be able to deliver until that time.

A Period of Availability is one in which a driver should have a certain amount of freedom to dispose of their own time (sleep, read a book, take a short walk) but can be available to take phone calls, for example.