When driving an HGV or PSV vehicle under an operator’s licence, this driving (and other activity) must be recorded. Records are kept through a vehicle’s tachograph recording equipment.
All commercial vehicles over 3.5t, first registered on or after 1 May 2006, must be fitted with digital tachographs that record how long drivers have worked, over what distances, at what speed and with what breaks. Operators can, however, continue to use an analogue tachograph in any vehicle registered before that date.
As a result of the introduction of digital tachographs, it has become far easier for the Enforcement Officers to detect drivers’ hours’ infringements.
Indeed, a report adopted by the European Parliament Transport Committee on 31 May 2012 recommended that digital tachographs should have the added ability to monitor a driver’s record by using global navigation satellite systems. Such devices would also allow wireless transfer of data. This would enable traffic authorities to run remote checks and identify breaches without even stopping vehicles.
Those proposals were accepted and a new EU Regulation applying to EU members from March 2016 introduced the “smart tachograph” which was aimed to reduce the administrative burden on transport operator and to eliminate the most serious forms of tachograph offending.
This regulation means that vehicles that are registered for the first time after 2 March 2019 will need to be fitted with a smart tachograph.
Given that it is felt that smart tachographs will lead to better enforcement of driving and resting times (as they will make fraud more difficult, enhance road safety and reduce controls for businesses), Operators may also perceive a benefit in their introduction the new system it will help to reduce roadside checks for compliant companies and allow enforcement authorities to better target the offenders.
With initiatives such as this being imminent, it has never been more important for operators to ensure that they are getting drivers’ hours right and that drivers employed by them understand the importance of driving in accordance with the rules on permitted hours.