Tachograph Symbols

Tachographs are devices fitted to vehicles that record and store various different types of data – including journey distance, speed and driving time. A tachograph specifically registers the HGV driving hours of professional drivers. The driver and the company must store and keep secure these registration files. Topics on this page:

Tachograph Symbols

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Tachograph Symbols

Drive, Available, Rest/Break and Other

Since 1 May 2006, the digital tachograph (Digitach) is mandatory in all EU member states. Driving and rest time registration were made more transparent and less susceptible to fraud, to improve the working conditions of the bus and truck drivers as well as to enhance general safety on the roads. Digital tachographs have therefore become an indispensable tool for the purposes of fleet management, now widely used throughout the transport sector. They can help to provide evidence that drivers abide by EU Drivers’ Hours regulations, as they are obliged to. But getting to grips with tachograph devices isn’t always easy.

Following the introduction of the tachograph, their use has been simplified by the implementation of certain symbols. For harmonisation purposes, four key symbol formats have been legally established. These symbols depict the different main driver statuses of Drive, Available, Rest/Break and Other Work and they are still applicable in the sector. Soon after the ratification of these four symbols, different tachograph manufacturers have expanded these key symbols and now include a wide variety of symbols.

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Why is it important to know the tachograph symbols?

Everyone who uses a tachograph should know the symbols used. Every symbol depicts a different driver status and helps a driver to prevent accidental infringements. If you don’t have a good knowledge of these symbols, it becomes very hard to make proper use of a tachograph. In addition to the key symbols, different brands of tachographs make use of a more or less different set of symbols. Every driver needs to know the specific set that is applicable to the tachograph he or she uses. Any mistake might result in safety risks as well as infringements which could result in fines.

Big savings to win for tachograph analysts
The way tachograph symbols eases the analysis of tachograph data, a remote download solution of the tachograph files will boost any analyst’s and fleet managers’ time and concerns savings. A universal Remote Tacho Download solution has been designed in order to unburden fleet managers by automating the download of digital tachograph files of all manufacturers. Instead of manually downloading tachograph and driver data from the vehicle, the FleetGO solution enables the fleet manager to see and analyze all digital tachograph files in one single platform. Data is sent via our control unit directly into the platform. All files are checked on completeness and integrity so you know for sure if your archive meets the EU-regulations. To organize one’s process of collection and storage the .ddd files becomes easier than ever before.

Why is it important to know the tacho symbols and their meanings?

Tachograph symbols obviously simplify the use of a tachograph for drivers. It was decided to use multiple symbols to increase the utility of the device for drivers and managers.

At the same time, symbols can support the control and analysis of the tachograph data. The appliance of symbols helps people to visualise a driving and resting pattern at a glance. Fleet managers or operators have various responsibilities when it comes to digital tacho data. They are obliged to download and store data from drivers’ cards and vehicle units, as well as keep a watchful eye on drivers’ records and printouts. They must report instances of non-compliance with drivers’ hours regulations, incidents of excess speeding, missing activities and missing start/end locations. In addition, operators are responsible for training drivers on how to use tachograph systems, ensuring proper use of drivers’ cards, and making sure that tachograph devices are properly calibrated and in full working order. The use and representation of tachograph symbols can save a lot of time in carrying out these responsibilities.

digital tachograph pictograms

Image: tachograph symbols used in tachograph analysis software.

How are symbols represented by a tachograph?

The tachograph symbols represent the current tachograph status. The ‘driving mode’ is activated automatically when the vehicle is moving. The digital tachograph usually automatically selects the ‘other activities’ mode when it comes to a standstill. The ‘break/rest’ and ‘available’ modes can be manually selected by the driver while the vehicle is standing still.

What are tachograph symbols called?

The symbol visuals are usually called ‘symbols’, but also ‘signs’, ‘pictograms’, ‘digital tachograph pictograms’ or ‘icons’.
Tachograph chart symbol
Each tachograph offers a minimum of four different driver statuses depicted by a unique symbol. These symbols are legally established by EU regulations (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0165&from=EN article 34, number 5b i-iv) and their formats must be adhered to by every manufacturer.

Tachograph Driving Symbol

tachograph driving symbol

The ‘Driving’ symbol indicates the status of a driver driving the vehicle, usually followed by the time spent driving. This symbol also includes the time the vehicles engine is running without the vehicle moving, because of a traffic light or a traffic jam. This symbol applies as long the driver is behind the wheel, and the engine is running, even when the vehicle is stationary or parked. It is automatically recorded as such on most tachographs, and hence there is no need for drivers to deliberately select this option.

Tachograph Other work Symbol

Tachograph other work symbol

The ‘Other work’ symbol – indicates that the driver is logged in and doing work other than driving. The vehicle is standing still. This status may include helping out with loading and unloading, work for the supplier or another employer, and even work outside the transport and fleet sector.

Tachograph Available Symbol

Tachograph available symbol

The ‘Available’ symbol indicates the driver’s availability. Periods of availability include waiting time, time spent on a bunk while the vehicle is in motion, taking a vehicle on a ferry or waiting for loading and unloading. It is stated that during this period the driver needs to remain at his or her post only for the purpose of answering calls to start or resume driving.

Tachograph Break Symbol (Or Rest Period Symbol)

tachograph break symbol

The ‘Break/Rest’ symbol indicates that the driver is taking a break or is resting. This includes both in-work breaks and daily/weekly rest periods.

A Wide Variety of other Tachograph Symbols

Besides the basic four, a wide variety of tachograph symbols is used to symbolise certain statuses, equipments or roles. Each manufacturer provides its own specific set of digital tachograph pictograms, representing for instance Operational Modes, Driver Activities, Cards and Equipment. Combinations of symbols are also often used to point out for instance Faults, specific Driving periods, different kinds of Cards. A full list and guide to tachograph symbols and icons is provided by each respective manufacturer, usually included in a user guide or instruction manual that comes with the specific brand and version of the tachograph that is acquired.

Take a look here for directions to different manufacturers’ downloads:

General list of tachograph symbols: free download

To be sure you are well informed about the most common symbols, download this list. It covers the most common and most used digital tachograph pictograms based on 90% of the market, derived from the tachograph market dominance of VDO. To your convenience, the list is free for use for any driver, fleet manager or affiliated user.

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