Parliament wants new tachographs on all trucks
By Isabelle Smets | Wednesday 04 July 2012
The European Parliament is calling for all lorries of above 2.8 tonnes to be equipped with ‘new generation’ tacographs between now and 2020. This would mean that lorries that are currently being sold in the EU would have to be retrofitted - since the new device is not yet available - and the oldest lorries still in circulation when it becomes available should be equipped at that time.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) does not consider this requirement either justified or technically feasible, but has not succeeded in convincing MEPs to change their mind. By adopting a report by Silvia-Adriana Ticau (S&D, Romania), on July 3 in Strasbourg, MEPs confirmed the obligation to retrofit lorries - although neither the Council of Ministers nor the European Commission has asked for this requirement.
Tachographs are devices that record the driving and rest times of professional drivers. ‘New generation’ tachographs use satellite technology, which reduces the amount of manual input required (for example, checking in and out of work) and therefore opportunities for fraud. Speaking on behalf of the EPP group, Jim Higgins (Ireland) said during the debate that “Nine percent of the vehicles checked are found to be breaching the social rules. Roughly one quarter of them are found to be breaching the tachograph regulation in particular. On average, at any one time, around 45,000 vehicles are in breach of the EU tachograph rules”.
According to the parliamentary report, new trucks should all be equipped by 2017 (24 months after the entry into force of technical specifications that the Commission expects to adopt at the end of 2014). This is almost two months before the date put forward by the Council - therefore, interesting negotiations could lie ahead.
MEPs want an exemption for vehicles operating within a radius of 100 km around the headquarters of a company, on the condition that driving is not the company’s main activity; for example, construction companies that need to transport their building materials. On this point, Parliament is in agreement with the Council and the Commission. A draft report, which was adopted in the Committee on Transport (TRAN) on 31 May, retained the distance of 150 km - and in the plenary session, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas relieved fears over the potential security problems that this could create. He will therefore be satisifed with the outcome of the vote.
On the other hand, the commissioner will not appreciate the fact that Parliament, like Council, has rejected the idea of merging the professional driver’s driving licence with the driver card, which records data on drivers’ activities. The Commission believes that merging the two cards would help limit the number of cases of fraud (since driver cards are currently very easy to exchange). Rather than introduce a legal obligation in January 2018, as required by the Commission, MEPs have asked for an impact study to be carried out two years before the entry into force of the new rules.