May 30, 2018
All UK vans should be fitted with tachographs, that’s the proposal of the European Parliament’s transport committee, who have stated that vans should get the same devices standard on vehicles in excess of 3.5-tonnes.
The proposal from the European Parliament’s transport committee instructs that it would be compulsory for operators of commercial vehicles with weights between 2.4 and 3.5-tonnes to fit and operate a tachograph on their vans.
Tachographs are devices that record data regarding the van driver’s driving habits, including their time, speed and distance whilst at the wheel. Tachographs are designed to guarantee that employers abide by the legislation surrounding working hours of long distance drivers, these are currently a legal requirement for larger heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), with gross vehicle weights in excess of 3.5-tonnes.
Drivers are given smart cards to enter into the tachograph when their shift begins, this starts the recording. The tachograph is fitted to the interior of the vehicle, with legislation stating that it has to be mounted within the driver’s field of vision, so that it is impossible to miss any visual warnings from the device. For example the device may warn the driver that they are close to that particular day’s driving limit.
As stated above, standard vans do not presently require the fitting of a tachograph, as these only apply to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 3.5-tonnes. The exception to this rule is if you are towing for business purposes and both the van and trailer have a combined weight greater than 3.5-tonnes, at this point the van requires a tachograph.
The European Union Mobility Package has not yet progressed through the courts, however if it is established in its current form, then it may well be applied before Brexit where the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union in March 2019 and hence British van drivers will have to comply with the package.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has questioned the proposal, claiming that it may make life more difficult for van drivers, adding extra expense and administration duties. Deputy CEO James Hookham had his say about the FTA’s concerns:
“Forgetting the cost implications of tachograph installation for so many hard-working British businesses, the introduction of this equipment in the vans sector would be pointless and time consuming. Will small businesses really have the time and ability to analyse the necessary data and plan their work around so many new working time rules? Would governments have the resources to enforce the move? The proposal is simply unenforceable, and a case of MEPs making bad decisions on the fly.
Hookham continued, focusing on the importance of vans on a daily basis:
“Vans are now central to our daily lives, with next day deliveries a given for households and business. Introducing a pointless measure like tachographs for van operators will not benefit our small and medium sized businesses but strangle them with red tape, at a time when they should be being encouraged to flourish and expand.”
There is an argument however that tachographs may help businesses comply with existing legislation regarding working hours of van drivers. Currently the UK government states that drivers who are operating a van for business purposes for more than four hours a day must follow a series of rules in order to remain compliant, which include keeping a record of the amount of time spent at work and behind the wheel. Van drivers who exceed the maximum driving limits can be given a £300 fine, however it is challenging for authorities to enforce these laws without a formal monitoring system such as a tachograph.
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