There are four modes that a driver must use on a tachograph whether digital or analogue: 

  • Driving

    This means that the driver is active. It is automatically recorded on most tachographs, hence there is no need for drivers to select this option deliberately.

  • Period of Availability

    POA (period of availability) indicates the driver’s availability. POAs include waiting time which should be known in advance, for example, waiting for a trailer to be unloading when the traffic office has told you how long it will take

  • Other Work

    Other work indicates that the driver is logged in and doing work other than driving. This may include paperwork or the loading or unloading of the lorry

  • Rest

    This symbol denotes both in-work breaks and daily/weekly rest periods.

The concept is the same whether you are operating a digital or an analogue tachograph: immediately before starting any new task or period of break, the correct mode needs to be entered. Apart from the very oldest of analogue tachographs, the driving mode will be automatically detected.


Your tachograph card should be inserted into the tachograph unit whenever you take charge of a vehicle.

The card records a period of at least 28 days of activity and includes:

Driver card data should be downloaded every 28 days and the vehicle tachograph unit data should be downloaded every 90 days using a company smart card


If your tachograph card is lost, stolen or damaged, you must report it to the DVLA within seven days.

You can drive for a maximum of 15 days without a tachograph card if it’s been lost, stolen or damaged.

However, if you don’t have a replacement card by the end of the 15 day period, you must cease driving vehicles with a digital tachograph.


While waiting for a replacement card, you should take a printout at the start and end of each shift. Listing manual entries on the back of the printout.

Forgetting your card is not a valid reason for driving without it. If you’ve left your card at home, you will need to return to collect it before starting your shift.

Replacement cards can be received in the post or collected from a local DVSA testing station or a DVLA office.

In Northern Ireland, they must be collected in person at a local vehicle licencing office or DVA test centre

Manual Printouts

You must write your driving licence or digital card number on each printout


Drivers must change their digital driver cards between the “slot 1 and slot 2” in the vehicle unit as they swap between driving, breaks, periods of availability and other work.

Digital tachograph units are programmed to record driving against the card in “slot 1” whenever the vehicle is moving. Failure to swap the cards risks recording inaccurate periods of consecutive driving on one driver’s card


When driving takes place on roads that are not the public highway. This can be considered to be ‘out of scope’ and does not count towards driving time but instead counts as other work.

Note – If you drive for any amount of time on a public highway, then all driving you undertake for the remainder of that day will count as driving, even if it is off road.

Universal Time Co-ordinated (UTC)

The internal clock of a digital tachograph is set to Universal Time Co-ordinated (UTC). It is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

A driver must remember that UTC is one hour behind British Summer Time.

Between 01.00 on the last Sunday in March and 01.00 on the last Sunday in October, you must account for the difference when inputting details in the digital tachograph.