TomTom Telematics’ Transport 2018 survey has revealed interesting findings around drivers’ hours regulations and tachograph usage. With the study highlighting operator concerns, we’ve outlined six top tips to help you with the crucial compliance process.
Tachographs play a vital role in helping enforce EU drivers’ hours regulations – and in turn helping improve road safety by preventing driver fatigue.
Although compliance with tachograph usage can prove one of the more complex, and time-consuming, undertakings, it is nevertheless a legal obligation – and infringements can lead to costly penalties from regulatory authorities.
According to TomTom Telematics’ latest research, 52 per cent of European transport companies have had their offices inspected for drivers’ hours compliance in the last 12 months alone. Furthermore, for 49 per cent, the risk of prosecution is a growing concern.
If you operate commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, or passenger transport vehicles carrying more than nine persons (including the driver), the compliance tips outlined below may help you to stay on the right side of the law.
Ensure drivers are aware of their responsibilities
Transport operators should ensure that drivers who are under their control, and who they consequently have a responsibility for, have had appropriate training and instructions on both drivers’ hours rules and the correct usage of tachograph recording equipment.
New ‘smart tachographs’ will be introduced to the market in 2019, but currently drivers will be either using analogue or digital tachographs – and responsibilities will vary depending upon which is in place.
In both cases however, drivers are responsible for using the tachograph each driving day to record driving time and breaks from driving/work. Furthermore, they must be able to produce relevant records at the roadside for transport authorities.
For more information on responsibilities when driving vehicles fitted with digital tachographs – mandatory for all new vehicles since 2006 – see the European Commission’s FAQ.
Establish a training plan
A formal training plan can help ensure effective drivers’ hours and tachograph compliance. Training within an organisation should not be confined to just drivers, but should also include management, drivers, trainers, office staff and analysts.
This plan should give consideration to agency drivers to ensure they understand the company’s particular Vehicle Units (VUs). It should also include possible retraining requirements, along with any tailored training that may be required for those that have breached the rules.
Take steps to ensure data is protected
Tachographs store personal data on individual drivers, and companies have a responsibility to ensure that this data is protected against unauthorised access. This responsibility has been reinforced by the General Data Protection Regulation.
Company cards can be used to help protect a drivers’ details by ‘locking-in’ data before a vehicle is first used. It can then be used to ‘lock-out’ data when a vehicle leaves an operator’s fleet.
It is also important that archived records are stored securely. If undertaken by a third-party – a telematics provider, for example – check where, and for how long, it is stored. A secure data storage system should include back-up and disaster recovery procedures. WEBFLEET Tachograph Manager will automatically download data and archive it in a secure data centre for up to two years.
Schedule downloads – never miss a deadline
Data from the driver’s cards must be downloaded at least every 28 days and vehicle units and from vehicle units at least every 90 days.
Manual downloading this data can be a time-consuming exercise and where information is stored on a company PC, it can negatively impact a company’s reporting capabilities.
Remote Download solutions, such as those available as part of the advanced functionality of a telematics system, can automatically schedule downloads to help ensure deadlines are not missed.
It is now possible for tachograph management systems to also connect and share data with third-party analysis software. This may also help with the compliance process.
Manually downloading data on a daily or weekly basis and trying to spot infringements so they can be dealt with swiftly can prove an arduous task.
Tachograph analysis tools – whether standalone software packages or functionality associated with wider fleet management systems – can automate this process, generating reports that demonstrate compliance or highlight infringements at a glance.
Account for unrecorded activity
It is an offence to drive a vehicle equipped with a digital tachograph without a driver card in place. If a card has been lost, stolen or damaged, you can only drive without a card for a maximum of 15 days.
There are some exceptions to these rules however, such as vehicles being driven off public roads. Under these circumstances, you should take steps to ensure that you are able to account for this unrecorded activity, should you be asked by the enforcement authorities.
To discover how to make your transport company stand out from the crowd, check out our ‘four key pillars for transport success’ ebook.
 Variations may exist among EU member states