Introduction of Digital Tachograph

July 5th, 2023

Smart Tachographs (so called as second-generation of Digital Tachographs) will be mandatory for newly registered vehicles as of 21 August 2023 and for all vehicles involved in international transport as of 21 August 2025. Thanks to the satellite systems, the new tachographs will automatically gather data regarding the vehicle position, which allows the control authorities to detect violations more effectively and inspect without the need of pulling the vehicle over.

The new regulations imposed by the European Commission in this aspect will bring significant changes in road transportation in Europe. In our opinion, these changes will positively impact driver monitoring and compliance. Increased control over the operations of transportation companies should lead to improved safety, service quality and above all, healthy competition among firms.

At Don Trucking, we are not concerned about these changes as we have always strived to maintain the highest level of service and requirements for our drivers, regardless of the EU regulations. We place great importance on adhering to the existing rules and standards. Now we expect that this further digitalization of transport controls, will create an equal playing field and this is a step in the right direction.

In this article, you will learn more about how they will operate, why they are being introduced, and the manner in which they will be implemented.

Background of tachographs

The tachograph is a device that records the driving time, rest periods, and other activities undertaken by the driver of a heavy vehicle. Its main purpose is to prevent driver fatigue, ensure fair competition, and enhance road safety. Were these objectives effective? Doubts can arise, as many smaller transport companies from less affluent European countries, have been known to bend the rules. On the internet, many drivers even describe methods on how to “cheat” the current tachograph system.

However, this system is applicable in the European Union, as well as all other European countries, Turkey, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

When is this requirement necessary? It applies to new vehicles weighing over 3.5 tons used for transporting goods, as well as passenger buses carrying more than 9 people (including the driver). When crossing borders, drivers are obligated to select the appropriate symbol of the member state on the tachograph screen. New types of tachographs will introduce conveniences such as automatically recording the moment of border crossing using satellite systems.

source: European Commission: Joint research Center – Digital Tachograph

Digital tachographs

According to European Commission: “The Digital Tachograph and the Smart Tachograph are recorder of the professional drivers’ activities (rest and driving hours). It provides trustworthy information to EU enforcers controlling compliance with Social Regulation (EC) No 561/2006.”

The objectives behind their introduction were to: enhance road safety by monitoring driver activity (such as limiting daily driving hours), establish minimum working condition standards for professional drivers, and ensure fair competition among transportation companies within the EU.

source: European Commission: Joint research Center – Digital Tachograph

How it works?

Smart tachographs are the new generation of on-board mandatory digital recorders to enforce the EU legislation on professional drivers driving and resting times (social regulation). The new features make full use of advanced digital technologies such as satellite positioning, short range communication for road enforcers and interconnection with other telematics applications (such as smart parking or pay as you drive apps), through a harmonised Intelligent Transport System interface. It will allow automatic recording of start and final location of journeys and will also enable remote access to some tachograph data via wireless data transmission to control authorities.

In order to fulfill these objectives the digital tachograph requires a motion sensor paired with it and smartcards which are used to control secure access to the device and its data for drivers, law enforcers, companies and workshops.

source: European Commission: Joint research Center – Digital Tachograph

How will it work in practice?

The digital tachograph introduces exciting new features that revolutionize driver monitoring and compliance in the transportation industry. These devices will not only be used to enforce driving and resting time but also other features. One standout capability is the automatic border crossing recording within the EU using GNSS technology. This feature records the vehicle’s position in the tachograph’s memory, providing control authorities with valuable information..

Additionally, the integration of DSRC antennas empowers the tachograph with enhanced remote control potential. This includes maximum driving time control and the ability to record loading and unloading activities along with their respective positions. The tachograph’s ITS interface facilitates seamless communication with external transportation systems via Bluetooth, ensuring efficient data exchange. Lastly, the flexibility of tachograph software updates allows for easy adaptation to future regulatory changes.

Tachograph deadlines

The obligation to introduce new tachographs as part of the European Mobility Package is associated with four key dates:

August 20, 2023 – the new DTCO 4.1 tachograph will be mandatory in all newly registered heavy-duty vehicles.

December 31, 2024 – the requirement to replace older-type analog or digital tachographs.

August 20, 2025 – the requirement to replace first-generation smart tachographs with second-generation tachographs.

Furthermore, starting from July 1, 2026, the requirement of possessing a second-generation tachograph will apply to all vehicles weighing over 2.5 tons in international road transport or cabotage operations.

“Digital control” is easy

To remotely access and read smart tachographs, the use of Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) equipment is required. This technology enables inspectors to examine tachograph data from commercial vehicles without the need to stop them on the roadside.

With DSRC devices, inspectors can identify potential instances of fraudulent activity, such as tampering with driving and rest times or the use of inactive driver cards. By utilizing this technology, inspectors can target specific vehicles for inspection, thereby increasing the chances of apprehending offenders while allowing compliant drivers to proceed without interruption.

Several countries, including Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain have already implemented DSRC-based inspections for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). You can watch an example of such an inspection here: [watch the control].

Inspectors will have access to driver activity data from the past 56 days, compared to the current 28-day limit. This extended data availability, which will be effective from the end of 2024, aligns with the increased memory capacity of the tachographs and driver cards, allowing for more comprehensive and thorough inspections.

DON statement

As a company committed to full compliance with EU regulation or law, we are pleased with the introduction of the “smart tacho standard”, as it represents a significant milestone in the pursuit of road safety and compliance in European transportation.

As we approach the August 2023 deadline, it is crucial for stakeholders to embrace this technological advancement and prepare for its implementation.In the market, there are companies that have exploited loopholes in the existing tachograph system to bend the rules and exceed limits.

For example, extending the working time by just 15 minutes per day may seem insignificant. However, when multiplied by five days a week, 50 weeks a year, and a fleet of 100 trucks, it results in over 6,250 working hours (or 375,000 minutes) “beyond” what is permitted. This is sufficient time to travel nearly half a million kilometers beyond the safety standards!

We declare our commitment to implementing the “smart-tacho standard” as quickly as possible. All new trucks entering the DON Trucking fleet in 2023 will already comply with these standards, and we will equip our existing trucks well before the mandatory deadline.

We also do not anticipate any price increases associated with regulatory changes, as we already meet these standards. Are you looking for a reliable and proven carrier? We invite you to cooperate with us.

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