The analogue tachograph in commercial vehicles has been around since the late 1970’s and became mandatory in the EU since the middle eighties and was introduced to stop driver fatigue and improve road safety and replaced the log book. The first tachographs in HGV’s were analogue in the shape of a paper carbon disc that was marked by a stylus and was fitted usually behind a special speedometer of the vehicle that it was used in, the driver manually filled out the center field of the disc with his details, details of the vehicle, his name, start place of duty i.e. town where driving started, date, mileage of vehicle and would fit it in the tachograph before driving started that day, the tachograph would then record all vehicle movements but the driver would have to remember to change the mode switch to correspond with the task that he was doing, i.e. if he was driving then he would select the drive mode, automatic mode switching was bought in later, although the driver still had to change the mode to rest, other work and periods of availability manually. The tachograph would record on the paper disc the distance covered, vehicle speed and hours worked and also start and finish duty times, the driver at the end of his working day would complete the center field with more details such as place of finishing work, end mileage and the date and he would then have to keep this disc on him for period of time currently 28 days before handing it in to his employer. A new disc would be required at the start of his next duty so the driver would have to ensure that he carried sufficient disc’s to complete his journey.
Falsifying records would be possible as the driver could fill in any information in the centre field of the disc, ie; he could insert a false name or other info either before he began his journey or after and he could leave the entire centre field blank till he had finished his journey only risking being caught if stopped by the ministry of transport or police on that particular journey, the driver could also deface or destroy any tachograph quite easily and claim that it was lost only risking a heavy fine if he was unable to produce the tachograph when required, if the required time scale had passed he could also claim that he had handed it in passing responsibility to his employer. His employer should check that all discs were handed back in at the required time scale but as you can see administering this would be time consuming for the employer if it was a large transport company with a large amount of drivers. If the tachograph unit malfunctioned the driver would then be required to manually draw his movements on the disc thus making it very easy to falsify his records.
To help combat falsifying records disc’s with serial numbers were introduced, requiring the driver to sign for them and these could be then checked when handed back in after use. Scrutinisation of the tachograph required specialised equipment and would generally mean that the tachographs would have to be sent away to a specialist analysing company that would provide detailed output of the information contained on the tachograph. It is law that the company had to keep records for at least twelve months so you can imagine the number of tachographs that had to be kept grew to an enormous amount, approximately two hundred per driver per year and these would need to be filed away neatly for inspection by the ministry of transport or anyone else.