Smart tachographs .... an update

Updated: Jun 4, 2019



You last heard from us about the introduction of smart tachographs towards the end of 2018 when we had an idea of what was upon us but not all the facts. The introduction date is now almost here as from 15 June 2019 all newly registered vehicles will be legally required to be fitted with a smart tachograph.


There have been calls for a delay in this date due to concerns over the supply and demand of the new smart tachographs. The European Commission has advised it cannot foresee any issues with the supply of the vehicle units and is therefore not inclined to allow a delay.


There is further concern in the UK over implementation due to uncertainty arising from the outcome of Brexit. What effect will this have on the industry? Despite this, the government has said that it will continue with the implementation of smart tachographs from 15 June 2019.


Post Brexit although the UK will no longer be a member state of the European Union it will still be a signatory to the AETR, which applies the EU driver’s hours rules and regulations between its member countries. Although, as yet, AETR has not adopted the smart tachograph, under local legislation, the UK has.


New technology, new functions


The new smart tachograph uses the Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) to increase its functionality, this system is possibly better known as ‘Global Positioning System’ or GPS. The smart tachograph will record the location at the start and end of duty and after three hours of accumulative driving. The GNSS is also used to increase the security of the smart tachograph with an improved speed sensor.


More technology is employed in the form of Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) that allows the unit to transit a small amount of data over a short distance that may be received by enforcement officers using the relevant receiver. By law the amount of data is limited to the following:


• The latest security breach attempt

• The longest power supply interruption

• Sensor fault

• Motion data error

• Vehicle motion conflict

• Driving without a valid card

• Card insert whilst driving

• Time adjustment data

• Calibration data, including the dates of the last two calibrations

• Vehicle registration number

• Speed recorded by tachograph


This would allow the enforcement officers to detect any potential infringements. By law a penalty may not be issued solely on the evidence gained from the transmitted data. The enforcement agencies would need to stop the vehicle and carry out a full investigation. There is also no legal requirement for member states to equip their enforcement agencies with the receivers until 2034. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have indicated there are currently no plans to include DSRC in their enforcement capabilities although they may do so before the 2034 deadline. When the UK leaves the EU there may not be a need for DVSA to use DSRC.


We should warn international operators the other member states of the EU may implement DSRC from 15 June 2019.


Pick a card


Both the current driver's smart card and the company card will work in the smart tachograph, but the current workshop card will not work in the new smart tachograph. Workshops will need to apply for a new smart tachograph card which will work in both digital tachographs and smart tachographs.


What if the Chassis Cab was built earlier?


A point on implementation of the new smart tachographs for newly registered vehicles from 15 June 2019 arises in relation to the way that vehicles are built. Many vehicles start life as a chassis cab combination that is then passed over to coachbuilders for the actual body to be fitted. There is obviously going to be a delay between the chassis cab being built, the body being fitted, and the vehicle eventually being registered for the road.


It is normal that the tachograph unit is fitted whilst the chassis cab combination is being built. If you are an operator awaiting a new vehicle, just make sure that the chassis cab was fitted with the correct tachograph as the implementation date is for newly registered vehicles. If a vehicle has been fitted with a non-smart digital tachograph but there is a delay in registering that vehicle until after 15 June 2019 then the tachograph would have to be replaced with a smart tachograph.


Do I have to fit them retrospectively?


There are no plans to introduce a retrofit scheme for smart tachographs for domestic operations, there is however a requirement for vehicles used in international cross border operations to be fitted with a smart tachograph from 15 June 2034.


The EU Mobility Package is currently, making its way through the European legal process, which is a collection of legislative proposals and measures that may bring changes to the driver’s hours rules and regulations. This includes proposals for the next generation of smart tachograph. Will this bring further changes? Watch this space………





CE Transport Law | Specialists in UK road transport law 
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