Since 2 February 2022, all truck drivers must enter a new country code in the tachograph as soon as they cross the border. The rule should make it easier for authorities to detect and tackle labour exploitation. What does this new rule mean for the transport sector?
A tachograph makes it possible to check the driving and rest times of professional drivers. The device registers such things as the travel distance, speed and the driving and stopping times of the driver. In the past, use was made of an analogue tachograph that registered the data on a paper disc, but for some time now that data is stored digitally. The digital tachograph has been mandatory for new vehicles since 2006. This is only valid for a short time, however, because the current digital tachograph will soon need to be replaced. Within the transport sector, digital developments are taking place at a rapid pace. For example, from August 2023, all new trucks must use a smart tachograph. This will apply to the entire sector from no later than August 2025.
Country code tachograph required
Until the smart tachograph has been introduced throughout the sector, drivers must enter a country code in the tachograph as soon as they drive into another country of the European Union. The new rules that came into effect on February 2 of this year prescribe that this must be done as soon as possible. In practice, this means that drivers of a truck have to enter a new country code either at the border or at the next best parking lot or petrol station after the border crossing. This seems to be asking for trouble. Every year, more than 3 million trucks cross the border from the United Kingdom to Europe. When these all have to stop just across the border, the parking lots and gas stations in the area will become overcrowded. Moreover, because most trucks will not switch off their engines, this produces a considerable amount of unnecessary exhaust gases.
Fighting labour exploitation
The new European legislation requiring the introduction of a country code in the tachograph is in response to an increasing number of signals of labour exploitation within the transport sector. Foreign drivers of Polish or Romanian origin, for example, are said to have to deal with poor working conditions and underpayment. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management therefore points out the importance of the European package of measures. The new legislation should ensure that the working conditions of truck drivers improve and that they are paid fairly. For example, a foreign driver will soon be able to use the data in the tachograph to demonstrate that he provides transport services in the United Kingdom and Europe. In this way, he should also receive an appropriate wage that is customary for such work.
Avoid unnecessary fines and penalty points
Transport companies have to take into account hefty fines and penalty points when breaking the rules. Recently, it became clear that a fine can be quite expensive: a truck driver in France was fined 2,970 euros. The driver had failed to enter the country code into the digital tachograph at the beginning and end of his daily work period. The chance of a fine or penalty points will only increase if drivers fail to change the country code in the tachograph when crossing the border.
Until now, every driver is obliged to enter the country code both at the start and at the end of the work period. When he or she inserts the driver card into the tachograph, the digital tachograph wants to know in which country the driver is currently located. When the driver card is removed, the question arises in which country the driver is at that moment. The card can also remain in the tachograph. In that case it is quite easy to enter the country code via the menu. In the new situation, drivers can no longer wait until the end of the journey, but must immediately enter a country code into the tachograph when crossing a national border.
Extra delay with country code in tachograph
The new regulations may cause some problems. In any case, there will be some delay. Especially if the trip takes you past several borders in one day. For example, if you drive from Düsseldorf, via Limburg, Belgium, Luxembourg and France to Switzerland, you will have to stop several times to change the country code. So that means looking for a parking space every time and changing the code of the country.
Full parking spaces
It is expected that entering the country code each time will take at least five minutes extra time. In addition, there is concern that the new rules will lead to full parking areas and chaotic situations in practice. There will also be an increase in CO2 emissions. Entering the country code into the tachograph on an emergency lane or exit lane is also not an option, it is not a suitable stopping point. Drivers will therefore really have to drive to the nearest parking area or gas station. Nevertheless, it is advisable to follow the rules and to enter the relevant code for each country. This prevents unnecessary fines.
Smart handling of the new rules thanks to Smart Tacho 2
The picture outlined above of the problems that may arise due to the new regulations can be solved very easily by using the latest generation of digital tachographs. This will be mandatory for new trucks from August 2023. Older trucks must be equipped with the new smart tachograph by no later than 31 December 2024. Anyone who already has a Smart Tacho 1 must replace it no later than 21 August 2025. Although the sector still has time to place the new Smart Tacho 2 in the truck, it is certainly worth an investment to switch to it now. The new Smart Tacho 2 offers greater ease of use and makes it a lot easier for you to deal with the new rules.
Automatic entry of country code in tachograph
The new smart tachograph Tacho 2 automatically registers the position of your truck when you cross the border. That saves a lot of hassle and means pure time savings. Thanks to the Smart Tacho 2, you don’t have to rush into a parking space beyond the border crossing. The device ensures that your position is automatically saved in the digital tachograph. So you don’t have to worry about that anymore. You can also link the device to your smartphone. This makes it even easier to enter data manually and the chance of making mistakes is a lot smaller.
The use of the Smart Tacho 2 provides further benefits, such as a new function that automatically registers the position of the vehicle during loading and unloading. The registration of the start and end country is also a lot easier. The new tachograph saves both time and money. But perhaps just as important, you can again concentrate much better on the work you have been trained for and that you love to do: Driving your truck and transporting goods from A to B.