-  Friday 03 July 2020

Installation of tachographs trails EU neighbours

By Seán McCárthaigh
IRELAND lags behind other EU states in preparation for the mandatory introduction of digital tachographs on all heavy goods vehicles and coaches from May 1, according to an EU-sponsored implementation body.

The Monitoring of Implementation of Digital Tachographs (MIDT) has claimed no officials responsible for enforcing the new legislation have been either equipped or trained.

The MIDT, which is part-financed by the European Commission, said Ireland has also issued few tachograph cards in comparison to other EU countries and approved only four workshops for installing the equipment.

From May 1, all newly registered trucks in excess of 3.5 tonnes and buses carrying more than nine persons must be fitted with a digital tachograph. Existing HGVs and buses will be allowed to retain the older-style analogue tachographs.

No spokesperson for the Department of Transport, currently responsible for enforcing the legislation, could be contacted for comment yesterday.

A sub-office of the new Road Safety Authority in Loughrea, Co Galway, is due to take over the functions of the department’s road haulage division, including responsibility for enforcing the rules governing HGV driver hours.

Under new legislation, anyone guilty of an offence relating to digital tachographs faces a fine of up to €5,000 and a maximum jail sentence of six months.

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has welcomed the introduction of the new equipment as a much more secure method of recording driving information.

“Digital tachographs are practically fiddle-proof. They have also helped save more drivers than convict them as they provide reliable proof of speed and driving hours,” said IRHA spokesman Jimmy Quinn.

An EU spokeswoman said digital tachographs were being introduced as they provide a more secure method of recording driving records and are less vulnerable to illegal tampering.

She said the new system would also allow for easier and better control of drivers’ hours by operators and enforcement authorities.

New digital tachographs can hold data on drivers of a vehicle and their periods of driving and duty for 12 months, and data relating to faults and attempts to interfere with its mechanism.

British statistics recently highlighted how a high proportion of Irish-registered trucks travelling in Britain had broken regulations on driver hours.

More than one-in-four Irish lorries tested in Britain in 2003 and 2004 were found not to be compliant with the legislation upon examination of tachograph records. Most offences related to the failure to keep proper tachograph records and a failure to take regulated rest breaks.

Mr Quinn rejected any suggestion that there was a problem with drivers being able to alter records on older tachographs.

“Most drivers do their level best to be compliant. Many offences relate to drivers driving for an extra hour when they shouldn’t in order to make a ferry,” he said.


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