What is tachograph analysis

What is tachograph analysis? All you need to know

What is tachograph analysis?

Tachograph analysis is the way to measure and monitor how your drivers are performing in their day-to-day driving and work duties. Tachograph analysis provides the transport manager with detailed reports, highlighting areas for attention. By recording speed and distance, the tachograph provides an accurate picture of what a driver has been doing, even whether or not they have broken the law. Since 2006, all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes sold in the UK are required by law to be fitted with a digital tachograph.

Every fleet operator must ensure they have the means to analyse driver data from both the tachograph vehicle unit (VU) and the Driver Card and to manage said data correctly. For information relating to tachographs rules for drivers and operators go here, including exemptions.

There are some old analogue tachographs out there, however, in the post, we’ll be looking at digital tachographs.

How do we collect this data, where do we put it and what do we do with it?

Data is collected via a tachograph Vehicle Unit (VU) and a driver card which is inserted into the VU every time the driver uses the vehicle. The data is then uploaded to tachograph analysis software using a download tool and then, in turn, provided to you via software applications, in written and graph formats. Let’s have a look at all the elements needed to be compliant.

The Tachograph Vehicle Unit (VU)

A tachograph unit (VU) is a radio-sized device fitted on goods and passenger vehicles. The VU head records various types of driver and vehicle data such as journey distance, speed, driving time, working time, and events. Data is stored in the VU internal memory. There are a number of companies out there that manufacture Vehicle Units such as VDO (Siemens), Stoneridge, Intellic and Actia.

To access the VU data, you will need to ‘unlock’ theVU using a company card. Other cards used to unlock data are the control card and the workshop card.

Vehicle Unit data should be downloaded at least 90 )the maximum timeframe) or 28 days, but we recommend more frequent downloads, weekly for drivers and monthly for vehicles as best practice.

The Digital Tachograph 3.0 from VDO

The Digital Tachograph 3.0 from VDO

Control Cards

Control cards are used by law enforcement agencies to retrieve data from the tachograph. A control card is able to override any company lock put in place by operators.

Workshop cards

Workshop cards are used by authorised and official tachograph technicians to calibrate, install or repair tachographs.

Company cards

Company cards are used by operators to retrieve data from the tachograph regarding their employees and vehicles. You can also lock information using a company card or authorise third parties, to collect data.

Driver Card

Unlike cards used to ‘unlock’ data from the VU, the driver card collects data. The driver card is a credit card-sized plastic card that contains a microchip. The card stores all relevant driver data required for EU Drivers’ Hours regulations including break and rest times.

The driver card:

  • Is unique to the individual driver and valid for five years
  • Can store information for 28 days
  • Can only be used by its owner, ie. the driver authorised to use it
  • May be suspended or withdrawn by an enforcement officer if the card has been falsified, if the person using the card is not the legal holder of the card, or if the card has been obtained by false declaration or forged documents
  • Must be made available to enforcement officers on request.

Digital tachograph cards

Download Tool/key/card reader

Download tools are used to collect VU and card data. They come in varying shapes and sizes and offer differing functionality. They all collect data from the vehicle and the driver card. Manufacturers include DigVU, Digidown and Optac. Automatic, remote downloading is also available.

Optac download tool

Optac combined download tool


DigiVU+ Digital Tachograph Reader

DigiVU+ Digital Tachograph Reader

Digital Tachograph Card Reader

Digital Tachograph Card Reader

Analysis software

Tachograph software is a web-based tachograph analysis system, where you can instantly analyse data and manage driver and vehicle reports. You generally will only pay for the records that are submitted. This can keep start-up costs down, scales as your business scales, and means that the product is always up-to-date and will never need to be upgraded. I have used quite a few tachograph systems including over the years, for example, Tachomaster, Descartes Smartcompliance, and Tachodisc. I am currently using TDi Disk Check. In my humble opinion, Disc Check is brilliant, very easy to use, intuitive, and is built with end-users in mind. The system is fully accessible from mobile and desktop devices meaning no limits as to when or where data is accessed.

TDI disc-check

TDI disc-check

Go it alone or use a paid service?

This leads us nicely onto whether you should use the services of someone to assist or to go it alone. This will depend on your operation and how your transport department is managed. I’m an ETM and although my employer and I tightly manage analysis reports, using a tachograph specialist just adds an extra level of security and detail providing peace of mind. I use Logistics Support Services. They really know their stuff, provide an excellent support service, and are both reliable and friendly.

Analysis reports

Once you have collated all your data, (driver and vehicle) and you have uploaded it to your software system, you will then be able to view your analysis reports. The system you use will provide you with a number of reports which can be automated. These should include:

  • Drivers’ Hours (infringements)
  • Working Time (infringements)
  • Driver activity
  • Vehicles Driven
  • Missing Mileage
  • Over Speeding
  • Events and Faults – E.G driving without an appropriate card
  • Unknown driver

Most analysis software will have a dashboard to give you an overall view of the analysis and compare how your drivers are performing. From here you can drill down on a report for a more detailed look.


Working Time

Your analysis software will also provide you with a system to manage working time. By using drivers’ hours from the tacho data you can enter statutory holidays and any other work that is carried out not recorded by the drivers’ card.


A debrief system is a configurable points-based system that helps you spot repeat infringements and advise on what corrective measures to take. The debrief system also provides a process for the escalation of disciplinary matters. This is a great way to identify and reduce repeat infringements.

As with the dashboard overview, debrief systems are included with most driver analysis software.

Smart tachographs

Vehicles registered for the first time on or after 15 June 2019 now have to be fitted with the new smart tachograph. The aim is to reduce the administrative burden on the transport industry (covering both HGV and PCV) and to eliminate the most serious forms of tampering or offence.

Smart tachographs include GPS for positioning and vehicle tracking, remote enforcement capabilities and the ability to link the units to vehicle telematics.

TachoSYS digiDL

TachoSYS digiDL for automation

I don’t have any affiliation with TDi Disk Check, I just use Logistics Support Services for their tacho services and think they’re brilliant, so worth a mention. You can reach them here.

TMconsultant provide transport manager help for transport managers. If you would like to know more about any of our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to share the knowledge!