Digital tachograph

Romanian legislation is very strict regarding the activity carried out on commercial and heavy-duty vehicles, in the sense that it provides for the installation and use of a device, called a tachograph (the device can be mechanical, electronic or digital). Thus, the companies whose activity is the transport of large tonnage vehicles and vehicles with more than 9 seats, intended for the transport of people, have realized the importance of installing a tachograph in order to comply with the law, but also to reduce fraud. Although at first the drivers were quite reluctant about the installation of the tachograph on the vehicles and protested in this regard, however, in the end they realized the importance and the benefits of the device.

In the article below you will discover important information about what a tachograph is, what is the importance of this equipment, how to get a tachograph card, how many types of cards there are and what is the meaning of the icons on the digital tachograph. In addition, you will find out what types of tachograph exist on the market and how to download and store data from the tachograph, as well as other interesting and useful information for drivers.

What is a tachograph? – General information

Digital tachograph

The tachograph is that control device, the size of a regular radio, which is mounted on a large tonnage vehicle and which monitors various important information. The device was invented in Germany in 1920, but became mandatory a little later (in 1952 in Germany, and in other European countries around 1970).

Starting from 2007, the installation of the digital tachograph must be made mandatory for all cars on first registration. Also, according to European Union legislation, not only vehicles over 7.5 tons must be equipped with a tachograph, but also light vehicles over 2.5 tons.

However, certain vehicles are exempt from the tachograph equipment:

  • vehicles that are used by the armed forces, civil defense, firefighters or the competent forces for maintaining public order, directly or under their supervision;
  • vehicles used in case of need for special, rescue operations;
  • special vehicles for medical cases;
  • the vehicles used to transport the circus or various shows.

The importance of the tachograph

Digital tachograph

The tachograph must be installed on all transport vehicles to declare rest, work and break times, but also to reduce fuel fraud. In addition, the device is important because it helps avoid chart tampering, passenger safety, and driver vigilance throughout their journeys.

European legislation requires certain driving and rest times. Thus, drivers can drive 9 hours a day, with a maximum of 4 and a half hours without stopping and a minimum of 45 minutes break. I can drive a maximum of 56 hours per week, without exceeding 90 hours for a period of 2 consecutive weeks. They must rest at least 11 hours per day, and at least 45 hours per week.

The authorities introduced the tachograph as mandatory, because they wanted to greatly reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who drove for hours without taking a break. In a short time, after the installation of tachographs, it could be observed that the number of these events decreased drastically.

How to get the tachograph card

The tachograph card is issued by the Romanian Road Authority. Here a file must be submitted that includes several important documents, such as the standard application from the ARR, a copy of the identity document, a copy of the driver’s license, a copy of the document certifying residence in Romania, a CI photo of the driver, proof of payment of the fee for issuing the driver’s card. The tachograph card is issued in about 15 days and is valid for 5 years.

Types of tachograph cards

There are several types of tachograph cards on the market:

  • Tachographic card for the driver. It is white in color, has a validity of 5 years and is not transferable, uploading the data manually. It stores the information for 28 days of activity;
  • Tachograph card for service. It is red in color, valid for 1 year, is used by the workshop specialists. The card has a PIN code that is blocked after 5 wrong entries and is used for activation, mounting and data saving;
  • The tachograph card for the control authority. It is blue in color, valid for 2 years, belongs to the control authority, releasing itself for the authorities in order to read and verify the data recorded by the tachograph;
  • Tachographic card for the transport operator. This card is yellow in color, valid for 5 years and allows blocking and downloading of data.

The icons on the digital tachograph and their meaning

To succeed in reading the report printed by the digital tachograph it is good to know the icons used. They can be divided into:

  • basic icons;
  • icon combinations;
  • icons specific to each tachograph model.

Obligations of drivers holding tachograph cards

Drivers who have a tachograph card must also be aware of the responsibilities arising from this:

  • Mandatory they will respect the rest and break times established by the legislation;
  • Before setting off on the road, the driver must insert the card into slot 1;
  • Data that is not automatically recorded must be entered manually by the driver;
  • The driver will know exactly how to use the activity selector;
  • If stopped in traffic, the driver will present the card;
  • If the tachograph breaks down during the race, the driver is obliged to record the activity manually;
  • If he does not have a card, the driver cannot drive a vehicle equipped with a tachograph;
  • It is not allowed for a driver to use another driver’s card.

Types of tachograph available on the market

Digital tachograph

There are different types of tachograph on the market: analogue, electronic and digital. They are at the disposal of freight transport companies and aim at the development and modernization of transport services, the elimination of situations in which drivers hide situations in which they lie about rest and break times that must be respected.

Mechanical / analogue tachographs

Mechanical or analog tachographs use a system of mechanical couplings to transfer various data from the gearbox. These devices appeared between the years 1970-1980. They cannot be fitted with speed limiters, so they are increasingly being replaced by digital tachographs.

One type of analog device is the disc tachograph. A chart is inserted into the machine when work is started, then taken out at the end of the day when the work schedule is finished. The chart is kept for 28 days by the driver, then handed over to the fleet manager or employer.

Electronic tachographs

The electronic tachograph is a device that makes the transfer from the pulser to the tachograph, with the help of an electric cable. The most used type of such tachograph is the 1318 with automatic recording of working times. Its accuracy is lower compared to that of digital tachographs, so electronic devices are also replaced by the latter.

Digital tachographs

The digital tachograph is connected to the truck’s engine to read its speed, detecting whether or not the vehicle is moving. From January 1, 2007, it is mandatory to install it on vehicles upon first registration. It allows information to be stored in the internal memory, proving whether the legislation has been complied with. Digital tachographs are among the latest innovations in the field, cards are used to record data and they have similar interfaces for ease of use:

  • the enter button, which accesses the main menu and confirms the option the driver selects;
  • the cancel button, exits the main menu and deselects the current option;
  • buttons 1 and 2, which correspond to each of the two driver cards that can be inserted into the machine.

Storing and downloading data from the tachograph

Digital tachograph

The information must be kept in the internal memory or in copies of the data for at least one year (to give time to the control bodies to inspect it). They are used to demonstrate compliance with DHL (Driving and Rest Times) in accordance with EU legislation, which takes into account how long drivers can drive in such a way that their health or safety is not affected.

The data is downloaded using a special device, in specialized stations or remotely. It is important that at the center, at the company headquarters, there is a transfer cable and special software is installed. The fleet manager can also opt for a subscription to a provider that offers tachograph data download services, as this is a highly secure method that allows data to be downloaded and read as many times as needed in a month.

To make the work of drivers easier, some of the companies have chosen to increase safety, reduce costs and always know their drivers are safe by outsourcing GPS monitoring and car fleet control services. Thus, they opted for different interesting packages in this regard, such as the standard GPS monitoring package or the premium package, enjoying a wide spectrum of surveillance. The main advantages arising from this service are: much lower acquisition costs, the disappearance of interruptions in the fleet’s activity, the ease of downloading data, the elimination of the risk of receiving fines.

Other information about the digital tachograph, useful for drivers

European legislation is very clear about the existence of a tachograph on cars transporting goods or people. Practically, they cannot travel without the installation of such a device on board. The device will read the information from the gearbox or on-board computer, transmitting it digitally to the tachograph. The information will be recorded on the card.

Companies owning car fleets must equip the vehicles with digital tachographs, retrieve, store and make copies of the stored data, check the tachographs regularly with the help of an authorized service and download the data every three months. Tampering with tachographs while the vehicles are moving is prohibited.

If a driver illegally manipulates the data of the tachograph, then he will be able to go through several situations: he will be fined (including the company), he can be punished with prison, his vehicle will be confiscated or his transport license will be withdrawn.

Digital tachographs will record the following information:

  • the distance traveled and the speed of the vehicle;
  • travel time measurement;
  • start point, end point, position every three hours (if connected to a satellite navigation system);
  • who is the driver (his identity);
  • the activity carried out by the driver;
  • various information on tachograph control, calibration and repair;
  • events and anomalies.

There are some possible problems that tachographs can face: those related to the speedometer, blocking the driver card, not recording the data on the chart.

From August 21, 2023, new commercial vehicles that make international journeys must be equipped with a second generation smart tachograph, which has certain advantages: ease of use, visibility of the tachograph, avoidance of unnecessary operating errors, more options for connecting smartphones and dashboard with the tachograph. In addition to monitoring driving and rest times, the smart tachograph will record cabotage operations and driver posting. In addition, it will allow control authorities to read information remotely. Thus, the smart tachograph offers the following functionalities:

  • automatically records border crossings;
  • record loading and unloading;
  • records the position of the car;
  • the country in which the car is located will be displayed automatically;
  • has an additional motion signal.

In conclusion, the digital tachograph, this ingenious invention, has given transport companies the opportunity to have easy access to all the information that was previously recorded on the analogue tachograph chart, but also the ability to see if their drivers are violating their driving and rest times imposed.

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