Recording driving data and the role of tachographs in carrying out transportation duties
To feel safe on the road, it is important that the vehicles which you and others on the road drive are in good condition and meet relevant safety standards. But there is another important nuance to commercial transport. When transporting goods and passengers, European Union (EU) legislation requires vehicles to be equipped with a tachograph.
What is a tachograph and who is it for?
A tachograph is a device designed to record drivers’ activities and driving data. This data is important for both companies and public authorities carrying out monitoring and inspections to ensure compliance with legislation and safety standards.
It is a vital tool to ensure that drivers do their job with integrity, as it can provide accurate and verifiable information on driving times, rest periods and other factors crucial for road safety. This is true especially for drivers making long journeys, as the tachograph warns about driving times and the effects of fatigue, which can lead to dangerous situations on the road.
The origins of tachographs and the development of data recording
Recording driving data has been of great importance in the transportation sector for centuries. Tachographs date back to the mid-19th century, when they were introduced on trains to record speeding and other offences. In the relatively recent past, in 1952, Germany made the use of tachographs compulsory for vehicles weighing 7.5 tonnes or more, but since 1986 it has been mandatory throughout the EU.
There are different generations of tachographs, from the original analogue disc recorders to the modern digital and smart tachographs. The analogue tachographs used a disc and this was the first phase of tachographs introduced by the EU. Until 2006, they were used as the only way to record drivers’ activities. Then the digital tachographs were introduced, which by sending signals in encrypted form made it much more difficult to interfere with. The introduction of digital tachographs has led to even greater levels of accuracy and safety.
Smart tachographs and current requirements
The Road Transport Directorate (RTD) informs that the new regulation governing the use of tachographs requires new vehicles first registered after 20 August 2023 to be equipped with the second generation of the second version of the smart tachograph (G2V2) and EU Member States are to provide G2V2 digital tachograph cards after that date.
Viktors Zaķis, head of Public Relations at RTD, states: “The roll-out of the new version of the smart tachograph and the issuance of G2V2 cards has already begun. Though, RTD also points out that digital tachograph cards received in previous versions are valid until their expiry date and do not have to be replaced.”
He notes that in international transport the replacement of outdated tachographs by the new G2V2 is a compulsory requirement and calls for the replacement of tachographs to be carried out in good time and not postponed to the last minute.
“Vehicles equipped with analogue and digital tachographs (first registration of the vehicle or first activation of the tachograph before 14 June 2019) and used for international road transport must have their tachographs replaced by a G2V2 smart tachograph by 31 December 2024. However, vehicles equipped with a smart tachograph (first registration from 15 June 2019 to 20 August 2023) and used for international road transport must have their tachographs replaced with a G2V2 smart tachograph by 19 August 2025”, explains Viktors Zaķis.
Changes to laws and regulations
Currently, legislation in Latvia and other EU countries requires tachographs to be used in vehicles carrying goods with a maximum permissible laden weight, including trailer or semi-trailer, of more than 3.5 tonnes. However, from 1 July 2026, all drivers carrying out international or cabotage transport operations in vehicles with a maximum permissible weight, including trailer or semi-trailer, exceeding 2.5 tonnes must record their active and rest periods using a tachograph.