The laws around tachographs can be confusing. We’re here to help clear things up …
A tachograph records information about how long, how far and how fast you’ve driven, to make sure drivers and employers follow the law on drivers’ hours. The law requires you not to spend too many hours behind the wheel and to take proper breaks.
There are two types of tachographs: analogue and digital. Analogue tachographs are made of a round paper chart, like a clock, and a needle that records the data. Since2006, all new commercial vehicles have to be fitted with a digital tachograph, which looks like a car stereo and fits into a car stereo slot. The data is recorded on a card which the driver puts in.
If your vehicle’s gross weight is more than 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg), you may well need a tachograph. Gross weight is the weight of the vehicle plus the maximum load it can carry. If you passed your driving test in 1997 or later, you can’t drive a van larger than this anyway without a special licence.
Generally, if your van is under this limit, you’re fine – but the limit includes not just anything you’re carrying in the van, but anything you’re towing too. So if your van plus its load weighs 3,400kg, but you’re towing another 1,000kg, you’re over the 3.5-tonne limit and will need a tachograph.
It’s important to be sure, because as tachograph manufacturers Stoneridge Electronics explain: “Legislative requirements for light commercial vehicles are easily misunderstood by drivers. If a tachograph is required but not fitted, you can easily be in breach of legislation without knowing it, and may face legal penalties.”
The following vehicles are exempt from needing a tachograph – though in many of these cases, the exemption only applies if the vehicle stays within 62 miles of its base.
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