Tachograph rules, regulations and applications

Tachographs: Rules, Regulations and Applications

Tachographs are one of the oldest pieces of modern fleet technology, and have become an essential part of effective fleet management. The first tachograph dates back to 1844 and was used on trains to record irregularities, and the ancestor of modern vehicle tachograph can be dated back to 1923.

These devices have seen a great deal of evolution over the years, and today tachographs are a necessary piece of equipment for most fleets. In this blog, we will take a look at what tachographs are, and address some of the legal expectations for fleets to utilise this technology.

What are tachographs?

Tachographs are the devices in telematics systems that track driving time, speed and rest periods, primarily for heavy goods vehicles. Fleet managers can then use the data gathered by tachographs to analyse patterns in driver behaviour and efficiency, and monitor performance.

Software and hardware packages like tachographs work as part of wider telematics systems to help manage driver data efficiently and alleviate the administrative requirements of fleet managers.

Tachographs are a legal requirement in the UK and in countries under EU and AETR laws. They serve to ensure that drivers and businesses are abiding by the standards of road safety, such as the legislation on drivers’.

Tachograph cards

Most tachographs utilise smartcards, of which there are four kinds.

  • Driver cards – these store driver information including rest periods, breaks and driving times.
  • Company cards – these smart cards are used to download data from the tachograph and protect it.
  • Workshop cards – these cards are used for tachograph calibration by the DVSA.
  • Control cards – these cards are used by police and transport officers and give access to all information stored on a tachograph.

Analogue tachographs vs digital tachographs

While modern digital tachographs utilise a smart ID card and store data pertaining to each driver on their respective cards, analogue tachographs gather data on pieces of paper which would then be handed back to administrators.

With both types of tachograph, drivers can choose between three modes:

  • Other work – for jobs that don’t involve driving, such as loading the vehicle.
  • Availability – for delays that would require the driver to wait for production reasons outside their control.
  • Break/rest – for when breaks are taken.

All vehicles registered from 2006 onwards are required under EU legislation to use digital tachographs instead of their older analogue counterparts. With digital tachographs offering a more streamlined management of data collection and reducing the risk of lost data with physical paper sheets, the more modern form of tachograph is a more effective tool for fleets today.

Tachograph rules and regulations

As tachographs are used to track driving hours and behaviour, rules and regulations associated with tachographs are mostly aligned with the time drivers can spend on the road and rest requirements rather than regulations relating to the tachographs themselves.

However, commercial vehicles are required to have a tachograph to ensure compliance with regulations on drivers’ hours, unless the vehicle is exempt from EU regulations on drivers’ hours or isn’t covered by them.

As of August 2023, legislation came in that requires newly registered passenger and goods vehicles to have a smart tachograph v2 installed. Smart tachographs offer benefits including enhanced security and efficiency, and an open interface for integration with other fleet solutions.

Fleet solutions from Fuel Card Services

Tachographs are part of the foundation of fleet services, and they have evolved a lot in the last 100 years. This invaluable tool is a fleet essential and when used in conjunction with a suite of other fleet solutions fleet managers can enjoy comprehensive driver tracking and data management.

At Fuel Card Services we are specialists in fleet management solutions. We offer a diverse range of fleet management tools including telematics systems and driver tracking software, dash cameras and more. These devices, apps and software are fully flexible meaning you can build your system around your fleet’s needs.

Our experts are on hand to help you choose the right fleet solutions, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today for a no-obligation chat.

Overhead view of vehicles on a motorway with digital tracking overlay.

What’s the Difference Between Telematics and Vehicle Tracking?

You’ll no doubt have heard a lot about technologies such as vehicle tracking and telematics in recent years. These tools are an increasingly important part of any business’ fleet operations. Without them, firms won’t have crucial insight into what their drivers are doing or how to improve efficiency.

But if you’re unfamiliar with these technologies, you may be asking ‘What’s the difference?’ Vehicle tracking solutions and telematics are sometimes used interchangeably. But in fact, there are a wide range of differences that separate the two. Therefore, if you’re looking to reduce fuel costs, boost safety or increase productivity, you’ll need to know exactly what they do.

Understanding vehicle tracking

Vehicle tracking, as the name suggests, lets you keep an eye on your fleet at all times. Using satellite-based GPS technology that feeds information back to base via mobile networks, you can see where all your vehicles are in real-time. This includes who’s on the move, who’s at an appointment and who might be available.

This can assist you in making better decisions about how to run your fleet. As well as helping drivers find their destination, the data gleaned from this can be used to help fill in mileage reports and other records.

The key benefits of this technology

Vehicle tracking solutions help you build a picture of where your vehicles are and how to best optimise their routing. Real-time tracking can ensure drivers avoid any congestion points and provide accurate estimates for when they can expect to arrive at their destination. In turn, this helps with overall planning and can even boost customer satisfaction by giving them more info on when to expect your employees.

GPS tracking tools can also help you spot any vehicles that are being used where or when they shouldn’t. For example, you’ll be able to see if a car or van is being used out of hours. Geofencing solutions can also enable you to set up a designated area for your operations. If a vehicle strays outside of these restrictions, you’ll quickly be able to see this. This will also be hugely valuable if you fall victim to theft, as it can help the police home in on the vehicle.

What is telematics?

Speedometer with 'telematics' written on it

Vehicle tracking services alone, however, only offer a partial picture. This is where telematics comes in. A key factor that separates telematics from simpler vehicle tracking solutions is the amount of data and reporting tools you have available.

A good telematics solution will offer all the same benefits as a GPS tracking system, but will also build on this with much more detailed information about the vehicle and its driver. For instance, telematics tools offer more insight into how the vehicle is being driven. It can record not only speed, but also information about how frequently or harshly the accelerator and brakes are being used. It can also show you how long engines spend idling.

Elsewhere, integration with the vehicle’s diagnostic computer can give you an early warning of any potential issues, letting you better plan for any repairs or maintenance.

Telematics software can also integrate directly with reporting tools. This helps you easily calculate fuel usage, driving hours and expenses claims, to name but a few. With information displayed in easy-to-use dashboards, you have a complete picture of everything your fleet is doing at your fingertips.

The benefits of going beyond vehicle tracking

One of the key benefits of a good telematics solution is the impact it can have on driver behaviour. With the system recording a wide variety of metrics, you can easily see who’s driving sensibly and who could be putting themselves and other road users at risk. This lets you step in with training programmes, a warning or even disciplinary action for those who are frequently speeding, tailgating or otherwise driving erratically.

As well as making your fleet safer, this also has a direct impact on your fuel consumption. Smoother driver inputs and less time spent idling means you use less petrol or diesel. As this is one of the biggest expenses for any fleet, this is a simple way of reducing your expenditure and saving the company money.

This is before you take into account the fuel savings that can be achieved through better monitoring and route planning. As well as ensuring your drivers are following routes that provide the best efficiency, fuel tracking systems offer a quick and easy way of reducing your consumption and protecting your business.

Cracking down on fuel fraud

Close up of hand holding a fuel pump at filling station

You can also see at a glance where and when fuel cards are being used by your drivers, and ensure the time and location match the vehicle. This is a vital tool in cracking down on fuel fraud issues such as people sharing cards and using them to fill up personal vehicles.

Fuel fraud is a significant problem for many firms, with research from Shell revealing that almost two-thirds of fleet managers in the UK (65 percent) view this as a major issue. If left unchecked, it could easily end up costing you huge amounts of money, so you must be able to spot this and take action.

Improving your day-to-day workload

A good telematics system also means much less time spent on paperwork. With detailed reporting on everything from fuel efficiency and mileage to emissions, it automates and streamlines what would otherwise be tedious manual tasks. This also ensures accuracy and leaves you free to spend your time on more worthwhile, value-adding activities.

A complete fleet management solution

A telematics solution therefore offers a full fleet management and vehicle tracking solution. Compare this to a more limited GPS-only monitored service and it’s easy to see where the extra value lies.

Research by Verizon suggests effective telematics software offers a wide range of benefits. Among the results businesses have seen include:

  • Fuel economy improved by 18 percent
  • Economical driving increased by 15 percent
  • Harsh braking incidents down by 77 percent
  • Engine idle time reduced by 64 percent
  • Driving hours decreased by 24 percent

If you’d like to know more about what telematics can do for your business, get in touch with our experts today.

How can telematics improve your fleet's operations?

What is Telematics and Can It Improve Your Fleet Management?

Telematics is a big deal for the fleet sector. Deploying this technology lets you transform your fleet management, giving you better insight into every part of your operation. This can be used for everything from better route planning to ensuring safer driving.

If you aren’t using telematics, you’re in an increasingly small minority. According to Teletrac Navman, 86% of fleets used this technology in 2019. That’s up from just 48% two years earlier, showing just how quickly telematics is growing.

So what is telematics, and what do you need to know to make it a success?

What is a telematics box?

A telematics box is a small device that’s fitted to your vehicles. It’s sometimes called a ‘black box’ and it works in much the same way as one on an aeroplane. It collects a wide range of data about the vehicle, letting you know exactly what it’s been up to.

Key information collected by telematics systems include:

  • Location
  • Speed
  • Driver inputs
  • Fuel consumption
  • Vehicle faults
  • Idling time

These are just a few of the systems telematics technologies can monitor. With an advanced solution, you can keep an eye on every aspect of your fleet’s performance and your drivers’ behaviour.

How do telematics work?

There are a few key parts to any telematics system. The first is a GPS tracker. This monitors the vehicle’s movements and provides you with a clear map of exactly where it’s been and how long it took to get there.

Secondly, there are a range of sensors hooked up to various parts of the vehicle to gain further information. These can measure throttle, braking and steering inputs, for example, but it doesn’t stop there. With the right sensors, you can measure everything from when the doors are opened to the temperature of a trailer.

Finally, there’s a mobile data connection to transmit the data back to your system. After all, the info is useless unless it can be collected and analysed. This typically uses a 4G mobile connection or a radio network, though some can even connect via satellite.

All this data is then fed in real time back to your business, where it’s evaluated by fleet management software. This then provides insights into your fleet’s activities and highlights recommendations for improvements in a range of areas.

Why you should be using telematics

Having a telematics device installed therefore offers many benefits to your business. For instance, insurance companies often offer discounts to customers who have this technology installed. This means you can start saving money even before the key is turned in the ignition.

However, the advantages of telematics are very wide-ranging. Here are some of the key ways it can give your fleet a boost.

1. Reduced fuel costs

Cutting your fuel consumption is a key benefit of telematics. The technology does this in a number of ways.

For instance, data from GPS systems can be used to improve your planning. Fleet management software can identify more efficient routes that cut out unnecessary mileage or minimise time spent in traffic with the engine idling.

Telematics also helps your drivers understand how they can change their behaviour to use less fuel. If an employee is accelerating or braking too harshly, for example, this can be picked up by the black box’s sensors. This information can then be used to give them advice on how to adopt a smoother driving style.

Indeed, according to Verizon Connect, users of GPS tracking technology report an 8% drop in their fleet’s fuel consumption since adopting the technology.

2. Safer driver behaviour

It’s not just improving fuel consumption where driver behaviour can be improved. The use of telematics also plays a vital role in making sure your drivers are as safe as possible on the road.

One of the simplest ways it does this is by making drivers aware their actions are being monitored. This is often enough to change their behaviour, encouraging them to take fewer risks such as speeding and steering erratically.

If the system does detect concerning driver inputs, this allows fleet managers to step in and offer training. They can even deliver a warning if an individual is found to be frequently breaking the rules of the road.

3. Improved maintenance

Telematics boxes are often connected directly to a car’s main computer. This allows them to access and report on any error codes or other diagnostics flagged by the vehicle’s sensors.

Being able to view data on wear and tear in real time means you can schedule maintenance proactively. You can set up systems to program a service based on mileage, time or engine use, for example. This is much more accurate than relying on manual tracking and greatly reduces the chances of anything going wrong.

It also allows you to spot faults as soon as they occur, removing the need to rely on driver reports for any issues such as engine warning lights. Therefore, you can fix these problems  before they have a chance to lead to a breakdown or unplanned time off the road.

4. Better planning and management

We noted above how telematics can help optimise route planning for fuel efficiency, but this is far from the only way it can improve your fleet management.

For example, it can provide firms with a clear, accurate picture of exactly how long employees spend behind the wheel. This can be vital in ensuring you’re meeting rules for driving hours and keeping the correct records.

Elsewhere, if someone is using a vehicle on their own time without permission, you can spot this easily. You can even set limits on where a vehicle is allowed to be, so you can be alerted by the GPS systems if a driver travels outside this perimeter.

The benefits of telematics solutions are clear. If you’d like to learn more about these options and what options are available, get in touch with our experts to see how you can save time and money.

Telematics helps insurance

The Benefits of Telematics for Insurance

Insurance can often feel like an uphill battle, but vehicle telematics is a tool growing in prevalence in the insurance world and for good reason.

In this blog we’ll look at what telematics is and how they can increase the safety of road users, offering increased peace of mind to insurers and a better premium for drivers.

What is telematics?

Telematics devices use GPS technology and on-board diagnostics (OBD) to plot the asset’s movement on a map and gather other valuable vehicle data such as:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Journey distance/time
  • Harsh braking
  • Fuel consumption
  • Battery voltage and engine data
  • Vehicle faults

This is a more efficient means of monitoring the health of fleet vehicles so that potentially dangerous or expensive faults can be corrected before accidents occur, and also more effective monitoring of driver behaviours is possible.

The end goal of telematics devices is to identify issues that impact efficiency, safety, and spending. For delivery fleets, this can be a key cost-saving aspect of a fleet operation. That’s why in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how telematics is impacted by insurance – whether you’re looking to gain access to cheaper insurance, or as an insurer you’re keen to understand the potential upside.

What is telematics insurance?

Telematics based insurance uses the data collected by telematics devices to make decisions about the risk levels of drivers. Performance indicators collected by telematics boxes will demonstrate to insurance companies any points of concern in a driver’s technique and can equally prove outstanding safe driving too.

These factors will help insurance companies to come up with a fair figure for the cost of insurance.

What are the benefits of using telematics for insurance?

Whilst some drivers might see telematics to be too heavy handed a surveillance tactic, it actually has a host of valuable benefits for fleet drivers, managers, and insurance companies.

Benefits for drivers

For drivers, telematics can take some of leg work off journey planning and maintaining their vehicles on the road. When it comes to telematics for the purpose of insurance, the benefits for fleet drivers might not seem so apparent but there are plenty.

Insurance telematics encourage a higher level of driver safety and caution making for safer roads in general. However, in the case of an accident or mishap, having data gathered on your journey can help provide clarity on the cause and nature of said incident.

A good track record on your telematics devices could also support your career growth, facilitating trust and career development too.

Benefits for fleet managers

There’s no shortage of telematics benefits for fleet managers; the wide range of data gathered can support prompt fixing of issues, encourage more efficient journeys and fuel consumption, and save money accordingly.

When it comes to telematics for insurance, the most obvious benefits for fleet managers centre on saving money through monitoring performance. Efficient and safe drivers can be identified and those who need to improve can equally be sought out.

All companies strive for a safe and efficient team, so those who have a collective of fleet drivers upholding that standard will benefit from reduced insurance premiums.

Benefits for insurers

The benefits of telematics insurance for insurers are simply that it gives them a better understanding of who they are insuring and what level of risk they pose. The data tracked by insurance telematics can paint a clearer picture of the driver being insured, with comprehensive info such as how fast they tend to drive and how harshly they break. These are all factors that paint a picture of how safely someone drives.

With this information, insurers can get an idea of what the chances are that a driver will get into some sort of accident or cause damage that requires insurance pay-outs and influence the decision about insurance premiums.

Telematics from Fuel Card Services

For fleet managers and insurers, Fuel Card Services offer a range of telematics trackers to suit a variety of different fleet vehicles. From asset trackers to hardwired and plug in trackers, our telematic devices work with Tele-Gence software.

Tele-Gence is designed to help you improve the safety of your fleet and save money by staying on top of maintenance, repairs, and fuel consumption. With an accessible user interface, Tele-Gence is flexible and fully customisable making it a great choice regardless of your business type.

If you think Tele-Gence telematics could be a good choice of your fleet, or you’re an insurer wanting to learn more about our telematics, get in touch with our team today.

Why dashcams are a must have

Fleet dashcams: why they are a must-have

When your fleet vehicles are out on the roads there is always the potential for things to go a bit pear-shaped. Crashes, accidents, and errors are always a fear for fleet drivers, and that’s why dashcams for fleet vehicles are a safety essential you won’t want to pass up on.

When things do go wrong, dashcams can be the perfect failsafe; helping to sustain insurance claims, disincentivise theft, and tell the real story behind what exactly went wrong.

How does a dashcam work?

Dashboard cameras, or ‘dashcams’, are cameras that are attached in the front and sometimes the back of vehicles to record the road ahead, the view from the back of the vehicle, and occasionally the inside of a driver’s cabin too.

Fleet dashcams often have more sophisticated features than regular dashcams, which make them particularly suited to vehicles used for business purposes. These can include tamper-proofing, hardwiring, remote access, and integration capability with other fleet software and telematics systems.

How fleet dashcams can support your drivers

For those operating your fleet vehicles, dash cameras can offer an additional layer of support and protection. First and foremost, with dashboard cameras set up in fleet vehicles, should something go wrong there is video evidence as proof that can prove driver innocence and prove correct practise should your drivers be questioned. This also can work as a deterrent, helping to reduce the risk of your fleet driver engaging in any unsafe driving behaviour.

Additionally, should you utilise dashcams for driver monitoring, they can help to identify areas where training would be valuable to improve performance as well as where performance is strong. Offering training opportunities as well as rewards to high performing team members shows investment in your workforce and has the potential to significantly improve your fleet drivers conduct and performance.

How fleet dashcams protect your vehicles

Fraud and theft are two important concerns for fleet managers and dashcams have a significant role to play in avoiding both, as well as a useful tool to have on hand should your fleet vehicles get caught up in any of the 346 road accidents that occur each day.

Avoiding fraud with dashcams

‘Crash for cash’, hit and runs, and more are all a real risk on the roads and one that can impact your business’ bottom line should you be targeted. With a well-positioned set of cameras, incidents like these can be effectively captured on film and used as evidence to support your case if your fleet vehicles are caught up in these crimes.

Avoiding theft with dashcams

For many businesses, traders and contractors, fleet vehicles often transport goods and tools with a high monetary value. The last thing fleet operators want to discover is that vehicles have been broken into and the contents stolen.

Dashboard cameras act as a great deterrent to theft; potential criminals are less likely to tamper with a vehicle if they know they could be caught on camera. Despite this, there are still some who dare to break into commercial vehicles in the hope of cashing in on the contents. Should your fleet be a victim of theft, dashcam recordings could be pivotal in your insurance claim and could even be a key factor in the retrieval of your stolen items and the catching of any perpetrators.

Does having a dashcam lower insurance costs?

In short, yes; having dashcams in your fleet vehicles will lower the price you pay for insurance. All the benefits discussed above will be appreciated by insurance companies and the video footage collected by your dashcams will help to protect your fleet against false claims and keep the premiums for your fleet insurance low.

Why dashcams are a must have

Dashcam and fleet telematics

Dashcams are undoubtedly a great investment for fleets who want to improve safety and performance as well as cutting costs. While the initial costs of high-performance fleet dashcams for your fleet vehicles might seem biting, the long term savings and added peace of mind are well worth the price you pay.

Innovative dashcam technology designed for fleets of different shapes and sizes means you can integrate your dashboard cameras with a suite of fleet telematics software. You can find industry leading telematics from Fuel Card Services – Tele-Gence is designed to offer fleets the best in fleet telematics services and we have a range of add-ons including dash cameras, black boxes and more than can help you to protect and manage your fleet.

These technologies are well-paired with fleet software such as MileageCount, My Transport Planner, and MyService.Expert – all of which can help you to save time and money managing your fleet.

Get in touch with our experts today to learn more.