Tachographs are increasingly important in proving compliance with the Road Transport Directive. Although once purely after-market fits tachographs are now being offered as factory options on vans such as the Renault Master and Fiat Ducato.
Analogue tachographs have now been in use for approximately 20 years.
However, the EU wanted to take advantage of technology now available in order to ensure the security of the recording of driver duty periods. The aim is that the new system is less vulnerable to illegal acts by users to distort the data. This has lead to the introduction of new digital tachographs such as the one shown below right.
The new system will also allow for easier and better control of drivers' hours by operators and the enforcement authorities.
Unfortunately digital tachographs have a tendency to over-record driving time, especially in situations where a driver is constantly stopping and starting e.g. on multi-drop delivery work. To quote WhatVan:
"It could show that he's been driving for at least 10 to 15 minutes more in a day than he actually has," says Road Haulage Association policy director, Jack Semple. Some firms are suggesting that the daily record could be out by as much as 45 minutes.
The result could be a prosecution for breaking the Drivers Hours rules.
"The European Commission has recognised that it's a problem and we're asking the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency to take on board the scale and seriousness of the situation," says Semple. What they can do about it is another matter.
It took months and months of tortuous negotiations involving all the EU countries before the digital tachograph's specification could be agreed on and it would take many months more to alter it. In the meantime, the courts have to accept whatever the digital unit shows as a true record of what's been going on; even if it isn't.
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