Digital technology has the potential to radically transform haulage work, and one of the latest developments to cause a buzz in the industry is the Tachograph Smart Card. If you’re not entirely sure how this innovation works or how smart it really is, here’s the lowdown on why you should have one and how to go about applying for it.
What Is It and When Is It Needed?
All drivers and people employed in haulage work will be familiar with tachographs, and will know that they’re used to monitor drivers’ hours in line with EU or AETR rules. Most notably, these tools record driving times, speeds and distances travelled. The Smart Card is a pretty simple way of better recording that information, presuming you’re using a digital tachograph. Any commercial vehicle registered on or after 1 May 2006 must be fitted with a digital tachograph – otherwise, analogue versions are used. Smart Cards allow you to store information from digital tachographs about your daily work as a driver, ensuring that you do not exceed the legal number of hours on the road, and that you operate a lawful vehicle.
Anyone driving a vehicle that comes under EU or AETR rules requires a tachograph, but remember that this may not apply to you. Exemptions include anyone driving a vehicle that can’t go faster than 40 km per hour, emergency aid vehicles, breakdown vehicles, certain types of vehicles used in agriculture and several other kinds. Most drivers I speak to, however, see it as good practice to keep hold of a tachograph just in case. This is very helpful, as you may be subject to penalties and sanctions if you’re found without one. Smart Cards are ideal for this purpose, ensuring that you can record information whenever and wherever you go.
How Do I Get One?
Your tachograph Smart Card can be obtained through the DVLA. Simply print off the online form from the DVLA and from gov.uk, fill it in (and attach a photograph) and post it to the DVLA. The same form can also be used if you need to replace a lost, stolen or damaged card, if you need to renew a card that has expired, or if you need to change the details on your card, such as your name and address. If you do lose your card or it’s not working properly, make sure to let the DVLA know immediately.
It’s also important to note that there are different types of Smart Cards available: those for single drivers and those for companies. If you’re applying for a single card, make sure to use the form on the DVLA’s website; there is a separate form if you work for a company. It’s simple!
It’s worth bearing in mind that tachographs are not intended to cause you extra hassle (even if it may seem that way!), but to help you as a driver by following the right number of hours and operating the right types of vehicle – this is truly vital for keeping haulage work moving smoothly. With a Smart Card, you can move between jobs and vehicles with ease and without any worries – and that’s definitely what I’d call smarter driving!
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with haulage work. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.