The Smart Tachograph

The European Council made the ‘smart tachograph’ mandatory from 15 June 2019 in every bus and truck to be licensed up or after this date. The obligation is the result of a new regulation that will make enforcement easier and also equal throughout Europe, with the aim being fair competition. For the sake of clarity, older tachograph models may still be used in existing vehicles after this date.

The Smart Tachograph

The Smart Tachograph is required to be installed in every European vehicle that is first registered after June 15, 2019. To download the files of this new generation tachographs, you must upgrade your download equipment. If you don’t have any smart tachographs in your fleet yet, you do not have to take action yet. But as soon as your fleet is renewing, you should upgrade.

If you use Remote Tacho Download from FleetGO, you don’t have to worry; all our systems are compatible with the newest tachographs. Read more about Remote Tacho Download.

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Regulation leads to renewal

Tachograph legislation had been renewed many times, because new technological developments take place all the time. The first European tachograph rules on driving times and rest periods and the use of a tachograph came into force back in 1969 already. Not until 2006 did the mandatory digital tachograph appear as successor to the analogue tachograph. The initiative for a new ‘smart’ tachograph in 2019, is simply the next step. Of course, the ultimate objective, increased road safety and fair competition in Europe, remains unchanged. But despite the strict regulation and strict supervision, tachographs and tachograph data are still widely manipulated. The new smart tachograph should make fraud and manipulation even more difficult.

The proposed renewal is laid down in a regulation of the European Parliament, and boils down to a number of new features and new rules. Click here to read a summary of the new regulation: Annex 1c 165/2014.

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The name ‘Smart Tachograph’

The new generation of tachographs is called ‘smart’ because manipulation is more difficult, there is much more data to process, and a whole series of new features are added.

The new mandatory features

  • An ITS interface (Intelligent Transport Systems) – this allows sharing vehicle data or other data with other systems. For example, download systems, but other systems such as on-board computers and mobile apps too.
  • A GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System, or GPS + GLONASS). As it also has a GNSS module connected (a combination of GPS and GLONASS), the tachograph is a whole lot ‘smarter’ with location information and additional speed data. In addition, the location data must help to determine how much of their work time drivers have spent in a particular country. The latter helps to reduce unfair competition.
  • A DSRC interface (Dedicated Short Range Communication) – this module makes it possible for monitoring bodies to read out data at a (short) distance that helps to detect possible fraud. This interface serves purely as a selection tool to proceed with further inspection or not, and may not result in automatic fines. This was the intention in earlier legislative proposals, but various interest groups have objected against this. If no indications for fraud have been found, any data collected via DSCR shall be deleted after 3 hours. General road checks can still take place without this preselection.

The most important new rules

The new rules apply to the installation, calibration and display of the tachograph. There are also several changes in the rules. No signed declaration of absence (patronal certificate, formerly: ‘vacation letter’) needs to be present any more, because all the rest periods must be entered in the tachograph manually. A manually entered declaration of absence with the vehicle, is sufficient. In addition, the tachograph exemption radius when transporting live animals, is increased from 50 to 100 kilometres.

Market impact

As stated, in addition to safety, the tachograph legislation should also promote fair competition. The smart tachograph obligation supports coordination in Europe as it simplifies enforcement in the Member States, and it is thus easier to standardize. For example, a check in France should eventually lead to the same results as a check in the Netherlands, Germany or Spain. On the basis of a European directive, all Member States should perform a minimum number of road and company inspections. Member States should submit a report to the European Commission on this every two years. This way, Member States can check each other and assess whether the ‘inspection pressure’ is the same in the various Member States. This contributes to a level playing field.

The ‘Smart Tachograph is The Future

The new rules and new technology once again stresses that the tachograph is and remains a very important instrument for Europe. The positive side is that the tachograph can increasingly be seen not only as a control medium, but also as a tool to assist drivers and transport companies. The data generated by the latest tachographs continue to expand in its nature, more accurate recording, and more relevant in its application. The modern (smart) transporters will, apart from the ‘clocking system’, also discover and use the other system and data applications to optimize their operations.

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