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Missing Tachograph Data:

What happens when you exceed 28 days?

It’s often asked why the legal limit for downloading your driver card is set at 28 days. Some believe it’s because the card itself holds a maximum of 28 days’ worth of data. While there are strong reasons for making this assumption, it is not accurate. Some natural questions arise:, does that 28 days include weekends and holidays? Is it a consecutive 28 calendar days, or 28 shift activities? If the latter, if one takes two shortened shifts a day, with a rest period in between, does the tachograph count that as two days or one?

The reality is not quite as straightforward as we might like it to be. The fact is, a fully functioning tachograph holds 90 days worth of data as a minimum. A card holds at least 28 days’ worth. Total capacity – that is, the number of days a tachograph can hold before it begins to erase the data – varies from unit to unit. Because no ‘day’ is exactly like any other, some days will take up more storage space than others, so that one can never with accuracy predict how long a card, or a vehicle unit, can be used past their respective deadlines before the data begins to go missing. 

Hence the law:

28 days for cards, 90 days for vehicles.

These are maximums: it is an offence to exceed either limit. It’s the responsibility of the driver and the operator to ensure downloads are undertaken at legal intervals. In the event of a roadside stoppage or site visit by an enforcement officer, both the driver and the operator can face reprimands and fines for allowing a card or vehicle to become overdue for their downloads.

Missing data is highly frowned upon. Once information is erased from the unit, it is impossible to retrieve. There will be noticeable gaps on your reports, online activity calendar and any compliance system that is used to record your data. Missing data may be viewed as an attempt to hide illegal activity and therefore is treated with the greatest suspicion.

Missing Tachograph Data

For that reason, best practice is to download driver cards every week and the vehicle units every month. It is still easy, however, to forget the downloads, or to put off doing them: vehicle downloads especially are time-consuming and often inconvenient to undertake. This is part of the reason why there has been a great movement in the haulage industry toward remote downloading: this solution is achieved by a device which, when fitted to the rear of the tachograph, sends data to a preset online location. The device can be configured to send data every day, that is, vehicle data every time the ignition is engaged, and driver information every time the card’s inserted in the VU. 

Because this method eliminates the risk of data going missing, it has gained enormously in popularity these past two or three years. Fleets of all sizes have seen operational and financial advantages from automatic downloading; so marked is the trend that we expect the vast majority of new operators will opt for this method in the next five years.

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