Could vans require tachographs in the not so distant future?

30th Aug 2022

Under DVSA rules, all commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used in the course of business must record their movements using a tachograph. Tachographs record information about driving time, speed and distance. They’re used to make sure drivers and employers (operators) follow drivers’ hours regulations. Tachograph data is used by operators to highlight infringements which may put their operating licence at risk. SmartAnalysis is the UK’s no.1 tachograph analysis software for fleets of all sizes.

Current Rules

Currently, van drivers and those operating goods vehicles under 3.5 tonnes have some restrictions on drivers’ hours, but these are not as stringent as those applying to HGV drivers.

  • 10 hours of daily driving
    • From the moment you start driving and includes any driving off-road and time behind the wheel with engine running and controlling the vehicle – stationary or moving.
  • 11 hours of daily duty
    • This period is calculated in the 24 hours from the beginning of a drivers shift. This is excluded for drivers if they do not drive on any part of the working day.

Summary – Maximum of 10 hours of driving per day with a maximum working day of 11 hours.

The Proposal

In 2018, it was suggested that the laws on driver hours may be extended to cover van drivers, see this.

This proposal made by the EU was not well received in the UK and resulted in an ‘angry response’ from the Freight Transport Association (FTA) stating it “would have a serious impact on the working lives of those using Britain’s four million vans in their daily business”.

Arguments against the move were:

  • Costly to install the tachographs
  • Capability of small businesses to analyse their tachograph data
  • Are there enough government resources to enforce the move?

The first consideration when bringing in any new legislation is of course cost, both to the government and those affected by the changes. With the cost-of-living crisis and cost of fuel higher than ever the margins for those operating goods vehicles of any size are getting even thinner resulting in some going out of business.

The burden to businesses in analysing and reporting on their tachograph data is minimal. There are many platforms able to accurately analyse tachograph data such as SmartAnalysis.

SmartAnalysis makes downloading your tachograph data simple and easy with pre-installed frequently used reports ready to go from the first time you first log in. It also comes at a low cost of £40 per driver per year (no contract) through our pre-pay subscription service.

Why is it being considered?

According to Department of Transport statistics accidents involving vans from 2010 to 2020 decreased by 21.8% (12,866 in 2010 to 10,338 in 2020). When comparing this with other commercial vehicles such as buses or coaches and HGVs you can see that accidents involving vans haven’t had the same level of reduction as other commercial vehicles which come under the stricter regulations with both exceeding a reduction in accidents of more than 50%.

Vehicle Type/ Year      2010 2020 Diff %
Vans/ LGV      12,866 10,338 -19.6%
HGV      7,615 3,399 -55.4%
Bus or Coach      7,462 2,213 -70.3%
Car      212,685 116,982 -45.0%

Source: Vehicles involved in reported personal injury road accidents, by vehicle type, Great Britain, 1979-2020

The above statistics do give a compelling argument that vans are causing more injuries and accidents than other commercial vehicles. Additionally, whilst the number of accidents isn’t rising the reduction in accidents and injuries is not in line with other commercial vehicles. As a matter of fact it sticks out amongst all vehicles with cars – despite having much larger number of incidents – having a much larger reduction in accident involvement over the 10-year period.

The increase in the number of vans on the road for home delivery over the past 2 years are also likely to have a negative impact on the above figures.

Who would be affected by the changes?

Drivers would be required to adhere to similar rules to those that apply to HGV drivers including but not limited to the use of tachographs. Whether or not the number of hours would be different hasn’t been reported but it is a concern not only for drivers but operators if hours were to be cut.

That said, with calls of concern for driver conditions in LGVs the introduction of stricter driver hours’ rules could bring in a more standardised and fitting working environment for drivers and bring more drivers into an industry which, as we all know, has a large deficit of drivers.

Take a look at our article published in MHW’s Magazine on operators removing aircon from vehicles to save fuel despite the hot conditions this summer.

Would this reduce incidents and injuries involving vans?

The answer is unknown but from the data for other vehicle classes it seems that drivers who come under drivers’ hours rules have had a larger reduction in accidents and injuries.

The argument for this is that it would bring down the number of road traffic accidents and make non-compliant operators more visible for fines and prohibitions.


Adding tachographs to vans and making adherence to drivers’ hour rules a legal requirement can only improve road safety for the van operator and all road users. This should not be seen as a burden for the van operator as modern SaaS tachograph analysis software such as SmartAnalysis is available for less than 77p per driver per week!