Tachograph card reader

In 2006, digital tachographs were introduced that used driver cards to record data. Hence, fleet managers required tachograph card readers to access information from tachographs for analysis. Digital tachographs record information on the vehicle unit and the driver’s card. According to EU regulations, a company must download data from the tachograph driver card every 28 days. Data stored in the vehicle unit must be downloaded within 90 days.

What is a tachograph card reader?

While the regulation for downloading data from digital tachographs is once in 28 days, most companies download information frequently. Regular downloads of the driver cards help fleet managers spot infringements immediately and back up relevant data. Hence, they require a tachograph card reader to access information from the driver’s card daily or weekly. With a digital tachograph reader, a company can access all the information about the driver’s activities recorded on the card. Some digital tachograph card readers have remote tacho download capabilities. Fleet managers can access the data in real-time and spot any issues before they escalate.

Tachograph Card Reader

A tachograph card reader can only record information from the driver’s card. That means the card reader accesses the information in the memory to provide data on the driver’s identity and activities. Since the driver’s card is legally mandated by the Driving Personnel Regulation introduced in May 2006, fleet managers require a card reader to access the information.

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What is the function of a tachograph card reader software?

A tachograph card reader can access the following information:

  • Personal data: This includes the driver’s name, photograph, date of birth, driver’s licence number, card number and signature.
  • Issue date: It has information on the validity period, date of issue and the issuing authority.
  • Data concerning the vehicle: A car’s registration number, workshop data and mileage.
  • Driver’s activities: It records a driver’s driving and rest times, speeds driven and overruns, start and end kilometres per shift, police checks and vehicle error messages.

Since the information is overwritten when the card is at maximum storage capacity, downloading the information helps the company keep a record of a driver’s history. With a tachograph data reader, drivers can also keep track of infringements and improve their driving habits to avoid fines.

Tachograph card readers are available in various designs, including portable options. Drivers can use digital tachograph smart card readers with mobile phones and access information on the driver’s card from a mobile application. The tachograph card reader can upload files directly to a secure server for tachograph analysis with an active internet connection.

A tachograph card reader can also assist with compliance by interpreting signals from the digital tachograph. It incorporates all EU regulations to ensure drivers are always compliant and reduces roadside checks.

How to use a digital tachograph card reader

Information can be accessed from the driver’s card via the following steps:

  • After installing the digital tachograph, the driver inserts the driver’s card into the card slot, ensuring the chip of the tachograph card is facing upward towards the tachograph machine for accurate data records.
  • When the tachograph card is correctly set, it records all the driver’s data in a downloadable format. During the download stage, the driver connects a digital tachograph card reader to the tachograph.
  • When using a portable tachograph card reader, the driver inserts the driver’s card into the card slot on the reader.
  • With an internet connection, data from the attached card is automatically transmitted to the secure server. Some tachograph readers have a USB cable connecting them to a phone or computer for data downloads.
  • The vehicle should not be in motion when a driver is reading or downloading information from older versions of digital tachographs.

What are the benefits of a tachograph smart card reader?

A tachograph card reader provides a simple way of accessing and managing information on a fleet of cars. Drivers can download the information with a simple portable card reader and access the data from their phones or computers. Fleet managers also receive the downloaded information in real-time since digital card readers can upload the information directly to a secure server.

The main benefit of the tachograph card reader is the accessibility to important driver information. A fleet manager can find information regarding drivers’ hours, driving behaviour and personal details. Fleet managers can easily analyse the work hours and rest periods, which assists in route optimisation and improves productivity.

Any infringements are accessible from the driver’s card, and fleet managers can provide further training to avoid penalties. Keeping track of all infringements also helps fleet managers evaluate driver violation trends and risk ratings. With up-to-date records and compliance with EU regulations, fleet managers can minimise police checks.


A tachograph card reader is a simple piece of equipment with a slot for inserting a driver’s card to allow access to vital information. Fleet managers rely on digital card readers to access information about the fleet and complete tachograph analysis. Apart from providing information on drivers’ hours and behaviour, a tachograph card reader is useful in ensuring compliance with fleet management regulations. Nowadays, digital tachograph card readers can be used with mobile phones and are portable for easy data access.


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