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How do drivers try to cheat the tachograph result and what are the potential consequences? 

>Modern digital tachographs play an important role in monitoring a driver’s work, contributing to the improvement of road safety and raising the professional driver’s standards of work. Nevertheless, many carriers and drivers look for ways to cheat and distort the data recorded by tachographs. In this article, we will look at what techniques are used and what the fines are for violating the applicable regulations. 

The tachograph – who needs it? 

Tachographs are devices installed in trucks and buses to record and store data on the driver’s working time, breaks, driving and vehicle speed. There are two main types of tachographs: analog and digital. Analog tachographs use paper discs to record data and are less technologically advanced. While digital tachographs store data on special driver cards, offering more accurate recording of information and easier data processing and analysis. The introduction of digital tachographs was intended to increase road safety by controlling driver working time and preventing misuse and manipulation. 

Tachograph tampering – popular methods 

The tachograph is a key tool used in road transport to monitor driver working time. Nevertheless, some try to interfere with its operation in order to circumvent the applicable regulations. The most common tachograph manipulation methods include: 

  • Not recording data such as vehicle speed, driver activity or distance travelled. 
  • Using someone else’s driver card or using one’s own multiple cards concurrently. 
  • Using someone else’s record sheet or several record sheets at the same time. 
  • Using unauthorized devices or modified software that allow data recorded by the tachograph to be falsified or altered. 
  • Disconnecting the tachograph during transport. 
  • Using a magnet or a switch to disconnect the tachograph suddenly. 
  • Modifying the device so that rest can be recorded at any time. 

Penalties for tampering with the tachograph 

At the beginning of 2022, the current regulations on interfering with the operation of tachographs entered into force. Drivers who break these regulations, in addition to fines, risk having their driver’s license suspended for three months. If the driver decides to drive the vehicle regardless, the suspension period may be extended up to 6 months. In some cases, the license may be revoked and the driver will have to go through the re-licensing process, just like new drivers. 

Among the most popular penalties are fines that can affect both drivers and carriers. Fines imposed on drivers are based on a penal offense, while the financial repercussions transport companies may face are based on administrative proceedings. The fine for interfering with the operation of the tachograph can be up to PLN 30,000. The carrier will not be charged a fine if they prove that they had no influence on the violations committed by the driver. 

How is the time changed in the digital tachograph? 

Digital tachographs, unlike their analog counterparts, use the UTC time format by default. However, they are also equipped with the function to display and adjust the time according to the local time zone. If you want to identify which time is currently displayed, look for the dot symbol, which usually represents the local time. As pertains to the time correction, after finding the local time in the tachograph menu, go to “Enter”, then “Vehicle” and “Local time”. Then you can make the necessary changes using the available buttons. Some modern tachograph models offer an automatic time correction function, which occurs either at a certain time or when the vehicle is stopped by the driver. 

Manual entry in the digital tachograph 

Manual entry in the digital tachograph is a key activity that ensures the accuracy and completeness of driver activity records in specific situations. In particular, when the driver, undertakes activities requiring registration after removing the card from the tachograph slot. Why is it so important? When the digital tachograph does not record certain periods of activity automatically, the driver is required to enter them manually. Such a procedure primarily covers periods of availability, other work and breaks. 

How to make a manual entry in the digital tachograph 

As for the manual entry procedure itself, it depends on the digital tachograph model. In most devices, after inserting the card into the tachograph, the driver is presented with the date and time of the last card removal. Then the device asks if a manual entry is needed, offering a confirmation option. Using the available functions, the driver enters the appropriate dates, times and assigns activities to specific periods. It is also important to manually enter the country of start and end of work, unless the driver uses a smart tachograph with a GPS, which automatically records this data. Failure to fill in the missing data may lead to fines. 

Summary: be responsible 

Interfering with digital tachograph records not only threatens driver safety but poses a real danger for all traffic participants. Professional ethics and the responsibility that lies with drivers and transport companies are not to be underestimated. Based on the assumptions of the mobility package, a real revolution in the field of tachographs awaits us. As of August 21, 2023, second-generation smart tachographs will be mandatory in trucks over 3.5 tonnes. Subsequent changes to the regulations will be introduced gradually with each following year.