Road Safety Just Got Smarter!

The introduction of smart tachographs has been confirmed for June 2019 and from that date, any new commercial vehicle will be required to be fitted with the new generation of smart tachograph. But what does that actually mean for the haulage industry and how are these new tachos different from the current version?

Tachographs have been mandatory in HGVs since the 1970’s, with the sole aim of reducing road accidents caused by HGV and bus drivers due to tiredness. However, despite the obvious risks involved in flouting laws surrounding driver hours, there have been numerous cases over the years of operators and drivers receiving hefty fines due to exceeding recommended driving hours, and even tampering with tachos to disguise misuse.

Technology has advanced since the early tachographs of the 1970’s, with digital tachos becoming mandatory for newly registered vehicles in 2006. The introduction of digital tachographs made it harder for rogue operators and drivers to cheat the system, but there is still a high level of human administration involved to effectively log and monitor driver hours.

How are the new smart tachographs different?

Roadside interrogation – the first point that is causing quite a stir in the industry is that the new smart tachos will enable law enforcement officers to remotely access smart tachograph systems from the roadside, without even pulling trucks over. Yes, the data on your tacho can be captured as you drive by!

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) – where current digital tachos only log a country code, and this often has to be manually entered by the driver, the new smart tachos will automatically record the vehicle’s location using GPS. It will log the starting place of the daily working period, every three hours of accumulated driving time and the end place of the daily working period.

Data sharing – The fourth-generation smart tachograph will also be allowed to share its data with other approved vehicle telematics systems, bringing a driver’s working hours easily into fleet telematics systems.

What do the new smart tachographs mean for operators and drivers?

Less ad hoc roadside interrogations – every time a truck is pulled over, there’s a knock-on cost to the operator. Giving enforcement officers the ability to read tacho data without stopping vehicles will reduce unnecessary stops. However, it should be noted that while new trucks are required to have smart tachos installed from June 2019, enforcement authorities do not need to be equipped with the remote detection equipment until March 2031.

Real-time tracking – the introduction of GPS will mean operators will be able to see what a driver is doing in ‘real-time’ and there will be no doubt about a vehicle’s location. Operators will have the ability to track vehicles, pinpointing their precise location within a few meters. Drivers will be unable to manually enter locations.

Administration costs – less manual data entry. Information from the tacho can be easily shared with the operator’s telematics system. All information can now be kept in one place, in real time, without having to work on estimates of a driver’s duty, or information being provided by the drivers themselves. Real-time analysis could help with load planning.

What do we think about the introduction of Smart Tachographs next year?

Will Smith, Managing Director at Savanna Driver Recruitment, said: “From our perspective, anything that could improve road safety and provide greater visibility of vehicles is a positive development for the transport industry. It will reduce administrative costs for operators and help to eliminate the potential misuse or manipulation of tachos.

There is concern among drivers and operators that data collected from remote access could lead to automatic fines, but this is not the case. Any data transmitted will only be used to make the decision about whether to pull the vehicle over for a formal check. Data will only be stored for the duration of the roadside check and must be deleted no more than three hours after it takes place, unless prohibited activity is detected.

Although smart tachos will only be mandatory on new vehicles, our prediction is that many operators will make the decision to install them on older trucks once they see the benefits.”

Savanna Driver Recruitment are specialists in providing temporary LGV (HGV), HIAB and Moffett drivers to businesses throughout London and the UK. For driver availability and more information please contact us on 0330 335 8367 or fill in our enquiry form.