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Easy Guide to Using Tachograph Systems


If you run a business which uses company cars or even a fleet of vehicles, you might be legally required to install and use tachographs for each one of your drivers.

This can help you to stay compliant, especially considering the legal requirements of being on the road for a set number of hours.

Otherwise, you could potentially incur fines or other penalties, which could damage your business and your reputation.

Luckily, in this guide, you’ll find out what you need to know about tachographs, including what they are and how you can use them.

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What’s in this guide?

What is a Tachograph?

A tachograph refers typically to the card, reader and software which is used to track your drivers, including which vehicle they are driving and how long they have been driving for.

Starting with the card, you can apply to the DVLA either on behalf of your company or for yourself if you are a driver, which is used as identification and holds all of your driver information.

Through the government, a tachograph card will cost you £32, and you can apply for up to 25 tachographs on behalf of your company.

Next, there is a tachograph reader which is traditionally built into your vehicle, and stores all of the information about your driving times and behaviours until you connect it to a PC at the end of your route.

A tachograph reader could cost you between £100 and £300, depending on whether you purchase it as a standalone device or as part of a package.

Tachograph software will utilise the information taken from your tachograph reader, such as which vehicle you have been driving, how your driver behaviour has been and information such as when you will need your next break.

This can help reduce human error, which was an issue with analogue tachographs which were easily tampered with.

The software can also help you to make sure that you are staying compliant with rules and regulations, as there are strict laws regarding how long you can be on the road in a week.

Sometimes, tachograph software can be free, or it could cost you approximately £1 per driver per week, depending on the supplier and how advanced the software is.

What are the different types of Tachograph?

There are two types of tachographs; one is analogue, and the other is digital.

Let’s take a look at both of these options and when they are used.


Analogue tachographs use a wax coated chart to engrave marks which represent a certain amount of time that you have been driving, the speed you have driven at and your driver activity.

The inner area will be used to record information like your name, where you are driving to and from, as well as your odometer readings.

Your analogue tachograph will tell you when you’ve taken a break, when you are available and when you are doing other work, but it’s down to the driver to record this information, which is why they could be tampered with.

This is why many companies have switched over to digital tachographs, not just because they are more accurate, but also because they provide much more detailed information.


A digital tachograph, on the other hand, uses a driver tachograph card which looks like an ID card, which will have your photograph and name on it, as well as your country and your daily work period.

Using a digital tachograph can record information automatically like your driver speeds and habits, which is why it is more reliable than manual tachographs.

You can input information manually, but you should only use this feature when you are working away from your vehicle, and so you can’t use the recording equipment, or when your card malfunctions.

Are Tachographs legally required?

In general, any commercial vehicle registered on or after May 1st 2006 must be fitted with a digital tachograph. Or, it needs to use an analogue tachograph.

While there are exceptions to this rule, you should also consider the many benefits of using a tachograph even if you aren’t legally obliged to install one.

Such as, learning about driver behaviour and improving your response times.

Here are the exceptions to legal requirements:

  • You have a passenger vehicle which can’t carry more than nine people, including your driver
  • Your vehicle isn’t heavier than 3.5 tonnes
  • If your vehicle has between 10 and 17 passenger seats which are exclusively for non-commercial purposes
  • Your vehicle has a maximum speed of 40kph

How can I benefit from having Tachographs installed?

So, what are the benefits of using a tachograph, and tachograph software? Let’s take a quick look and find out.

✔ Get detailed reports about your drivers

✔ See your drivers working hours in real time

✔ Check when your drivers need their next break

✔ Arrange the right drivers for the correct assignments

✔ View driver status and shift times

✔ Analyse all of your driver data

✔ Get infringement warnings sent to your drivers

How can I use a Tachograph?

The way to use a tachograph depends on whether you are using an analogue or a digital system, which each has its benefits.

For an analogue tachograph, your drivers will have the responsibility of keeping track of their day manually, from breaks to driving times. As well as speeds and factors like where they are driving from and where they are driving to.

They will do this by engraving on a wax coated chart, with their name and other relevant identification on it.

On the other hand, using a digital tachograph means slotting a card into a card reader, which will then automatically record that information.

Your tachograph reader will transfer that information to where you store your information, such as helpful tachograph software.

Top 5 Tachograph Software and Hardware Suppliers

1. Novadata


Type: Transport training and tool company

Pricing: £17.50 – £650+

Products available: Digital tachographs, report and compliance books, vehicle equipment, instructional products, wall charts

Google score: 4.2/5

Novadata offers its customers a wide range of tachograph solutions, including devices and software such as the TachoTek software and driver kits.

These driving kits might include the essentials such as a download device, software and a Tachograph Card Reader, which can help you to stay compliant.

This software is an excellent fit for both small and large fleets, who need to stay within legal requirements such as how long a driver can remain on the road.

Novadata benefits from an excellent 4.2/5 rating on Google, with customers stating that they provide high-quality training and the staff are friendly and helpful.

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2. Descartes Systems UK


Type: Tachograph analysis and hardware company

Pricing: £35 – £600

Products available: Tachograph software, hardware, analysis and road compliance advice and resources

Descartes Systems UK provides its customers with tachograph software, hardware and analysis, with over 20 years of experience in the industry. And, over 1,000,000 tachographs recorded every month.

Their wide range of solutions includes driving license verifications, tachograph analysis, tachograph software, hardware and other accessories.

Such as analogue charts, envelopes and printer rolls.

This means that when it comes to ensuring you are compliant, you can get everything you might need from Descartes Systems UK.

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3. TachoMaster


Type: Tachograph software company

Pricing: £1 per driver per week

Products available: Tachograph software

Google App score: 4.2/5

TachoMaster is a software developer who can help you to analyse your data, as well as track factors such as your driver’s activity, see where your vehicles are on a map and other factors like planning training.

Some of the main features include a workers calendar so you can see who is working and when, you can tell your drivers areas of improvement. You can also get detailed reports, and you highlight drivers who are at risk.

Another benefit is that TachoMaster is free, and only costs £1 per driver per week when you utilise the software for storing data.

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4. TruTac


Type: Tachograph software and hardware company

Pricing: £29 – £645

Products available: Tachograph software, driver card, download units, tachograph reader, cables and accessories

Google score: 5/5

TruTac have 20 years of experience in the tachograph industry and claim to be market leaders with cost-effective solutions. Who develop their software and products, with the ability to scale up as you do.

The TruTac software comes with many attractive features, such as being able to analyse your tachograph data, educate your drivers, view reports and driver behaviour.

This can help you to both improve your business and manage your employees, such as allowing your drivers to clock in and out, and verifies driver ID’s so you know which drivers are where.

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5. FleetGo


Type: Tachograph software and hardware company

Pricing: Bespoke

Products available: Fleet tracking, tachograph analysis, vehicle diagnostics, equipment tracking

Google score: 4.7/5

FleetGo was founded in 2010, and has an excellent 4.7/5 rating on Google, with many solutions on offer including tachograph analysis and fleet tracking, giving you an excellent selection of services.

Their tachograph analysis gives you information regarding an overview of your drivers, secure data storage, and warns you when there are any infringements to regulations such as the amount of time a driver is on the road.

This can help you to stay compliant, and avoid any fines or other penalties.

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In conclusion, tachographs come in two primary forms; analogue and digital, with the digital versions tracking information automatically and reduces the risk of human error.

Tachographs can help your company to stay compliant with rules and regulations. As well as keep track of all of your vehicles and drivers.

Have you learnt everything you need to know about tachographs?

Do you want to learn more about vehicle tracking?

Find out more about tracking your vehicles here, or you can fill out the form at the top of the page for a custom quote.

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