The tachograph is a device that records the driving time, breaks, rest periods as well as periods of other work undertaken by a driver.

The Council Regulation (EEC) n° 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport lays down the rules on the use of tachograph. The regulation aims at monitoring driving times in order to prevent fatigue and guarantee fair competition and road safety.

Since 2006 it has become obligatory to install a digital tachograph in large goods and passenger vehicles to allow more secure recording and storage of data. Once inside a vehicle, a driver must insert a special microchip card into a digital tachograph that will then record the entire vehicle’s activities, for example distance, speed and driving times and rest periods. The system includes a printer for use in road side inspections.

In July 2011 the European Commission proposed to revise the tachograph legislation to make use of new technological solutions such as satellite positioning. The rationale behind it is to prevent fraud and ensure compliance with the Drivers’ Hours Rules regulation. It will also save millions of euros spent on administrative costs. 

The proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and Council. The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposal in March 2012.

The 'Monitoring of the Implementation of Digital Tachograph' (MIDT) Platform has been set up in order to support concrete implementation measures in all Member States of the European Union. It is managed by CORTE. The platform’s website can be found here.