Tachographs and trailers

Posted by AndrewT on 21st Mar 2013

There appears to be some confusion about towing trailers carring goods in coomercial transport and when you need to use a tachograph.  It is your responsibility to ensure you are familiar with the law concerning towing behind commercial vehicles and fitting tachographs.  Ignorance is no defence in the eye of the authorities and serious or repeated infringements could put your business in jeopardy.

The weight threshold for tachograph rules to apply is exceeding 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight for the base vehicle or a combination weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes gross train weight when towing a trailer.

So if you are towing a trailer you must take the gross vehicle weight of the base vehicle and add the maximum authorised mass of the trailer together and if this sum is greater than 3.5 tonnes (the gross train weight) – you will be subject to the tachograph rules.

Tachographs do not need to be fitted to cars. Most vans, pick-ups, 4x4s and dual-purpose vehicles can have tachographs fitted if the rules apply.

When you are not towing a trailer and the tachograph is not required, the unit can be set to ‘out of scope’ mode by using the menu keys.

There are some exemptions such as the “tools of the trade” exemption where the combination weight of vehicle and trailer must not exceed 7.5 tonnes. The materials, equipment or machinery being carried must be for the driver’s use in the course of his/her work. Vehicles must be only used within a 50km (31 miles) radius of the base of the undertaking and driving the vehicle must not constitute the driver’s main activity.

Always seek professional advice if you are in doubt.