It is said that over time things change. Tachographs and technology have certainly changed, at pace, over the last 9 years, although not as fast as mobile phones, tablets and computers have evolved. Indeed, to some degree, digital tachographs still languish in the dark ages. 

THE APPROVAL AND AUDITING OF FITTERS, WORKSHOPS AND VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS.

In essence, the DVSA is to ensure that these groups and individuals are competent and reliable.

 What are the DVSA to do?

They are to ensure that the individuals are properly trained, there is the necessary equipment available and that the fitters, workshops and vehicle manufacturers are of good repute?

 How are the DVSA to do this?

This is to be done by way of auditing fitters and workshops.  The audits will take the form of one of two methods.

The first method is that, at least, every 2 years fitters and workshops will be subject to an audit of procedures and, in particular, the security measures taken and the handling of ‘workshop cards’.  (workshop cards are those held by approved calibration staff).  These ‘2-year’ audits do not require a visit from the DVSA and therefore will, in essence, be desk-based assessments.

The second method is that the DVSA, annually, will be required to visit 10% of the approved fitters and workshops.  These visits will be unannounced and will follow one of two processes:

  • Witnessing a Nominated Technician undertake a calibration in “real time”
  • Instructing and witnessing a Nominated Technician to re-perform a calibration of a very recently calibrated vehicle still in the Approved Tachograph Centre.

Specific details can be found on the Tachograph special notice 01-15, published by the DVSA in March 2015.

 ERRORS IN VEHICLE DETAILS ON THE VEHICLE UNIT

As an aside and advice, I have recently identified that a small number of vehicles have had the VIN number abbreviated on the VU.

With respect to VIN numbers we have seen them entered on the VU in the following formats, but only number 1 is legal:

  1. XLEP5X2014516780
  2. 4516780
  3. 5X2014516780

The DVSA advice we have received on this matter is “…… the VIN should not have been reduced in length and should be recorded in full, so the calibration centre need to correct this error as the calibration is technically null and void and you would be subject to enforcement action at the roadside if this was discovered.”

 USE OF DRIVER CARDS AND RECORD SHEETS

Much of this is identical to the previous Regulation, however, it is worthwhile reinforcing a few areas, covered by this Article, where many drivers are still vulnerable to investigation, prosecution and therefore fines.

Drivers may often be away from the vehicle when they are unable to record on the tachograph.  This could be as a consequence of the vehicle not being available when they arrive at work, the vehicle requiring maintenance, the driver of the vehicle undertaking work in the yard or in the Transport Office, before or after driving a vehicle on a specific date.

On those days, when operating under EU Regulations, the record, either analogue or digital must be a complete record of the driver’s working day.  Furthermore, if using a digital vehicle and when, as a result of being away from the vehicle, a driver is unable to use the tachograph fitted to the vehicle, the driver must enter the activity undertaken away from the vehicle using the manual entry facility provided for in the tachograph.  Drivers must be trained and make manual entries using the digital tachograph to record their complete working day.  If using an analogue tachograph these times must be recorded using the grid of the reverse of the chart.

 ATTESTATION FORMS

Furthermore, from 2nd March 2015, Member States shall not impose on drivers a requirement to present forms attesting to their activities while away from the vehicle.  However, Best Practice would dictate that particularly for drivers who drive irregularly or who have been off sick or on holiday attestation forms or similar is issued to prove the driver has taken legal rest periods and is available to drive.

 EXEMPTIONS and DEROGATIONS

The following derogation has now become an exemption and the distance extended from 50 km to 100 km.  “Vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes used for carrying materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of his work, and which are used only within a 100 km radius from the base of the undertaking and on the condition that driving the vehicle does not constitute the driver’s main activity.”  This derogation is often abused, if delivering goods for another person to use, the driver is not exempt.

The 50 km radius has also been extended to 100 km for other categories of vehicles including those used for the carriage of live animals from farms to local markets and vice versa or from markets to local slaughterhouses.

 THE FUTURE

On 2nd March 2016 the remainder of EU Regulation 165/2014 comes into effect; and this will include the “Responsibility of transport undertakings” where drivers are to be “properly trained and instructed as regards the correct functioning of tachographs, whether digital or analogue, shall make regular checks to ensure that their drivers make correct use thereof, ….”

Manual entries are a huge weakness, particularly in the digital field, but this cannot be allowed to continue. Otherwise, the Operator will find himself liable.

Then over the 36 MONTHS AFTER IMPLEMENTATION OF 165/2014

  • Recording of the position of the vehicle at certain points during the daily working period (at the start and end of the working period and after every 3 hours of driving)
  • Remote early detection of possible manipulation or misuse
  • Interface with Intelligent Transport Systems

It is important, therefore, that Operators are prepared, and drivers trained accordingly to ensure that they are not vulnerable to investigation and meet their responsibilities.  A review of the current knowledge, in particular with respect to tachograph use is imperative to ensure that we are all ready for March 2016.

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