Operators should be preparing for changes in tachograph regulations that will take effect this year.
Changes due to come into force in October of this year will aim at making tachograph readings more secure and are intended to make compliance with regulations more accurate.
Digital tachograph technology, introduced in all new lorries registered after 1 May, 2006 under EC regulation 561/2006, may require updating to comply with the latest regulations. These will change the controversy surrounding what has become known as the 'one minute rule'. Under existing legislation, when a vehicle is driven for any part of a minute this would be recorded on the tachograph and driver's card, in each case, as a full minute of driving. The new regulations will alter the way driving time is calculated and will abandon the former calculating process.
In future, if a vehicle is in motion for the shortest portion of a minute and then stationary for longer during the same minute, the dominant seconds will determine how the minute is recorded. Thus, if the lorry is moving for 29 seconds within a calendar minute, and remains stationary for the next 31 seconds, under the new system the entire minute will be recorded as rest time. If the situation is reversed and the vehicle is in motion for 31 seconds, conversely this would record as a full minute of driving time. Although this may seem insignificant, it is felt that the changes in legislation could benefit multi-drop drivers by allowing them up to 30 minutes more driving time during their working day.
It is still unclear whether all existing digital tachographs will work under the new system without some internal software changes. With certain types of tachographs updates may not be possible, although the manufacturer Actia claims that existing tachographs can be re-programmed to comply with the changes by applying data securely downloaded from the websites of authorised calibration centres.
Manufacturers say that changes will only alter the way that recorded times are shown on the vehicle's unit and on the driver's card. The methods used to download data from the unit and the driver's card are expected to remain unchanged which means existing card readers and peripherals will function normally under the new system. The main difference will be in the number of times the tachograph can be locked. Previously, digital tachographs could only be locked up to twenty times, which gave drivers of rental vehicles access to other driver's information. Under the new system tachographs can be locked 255 times to provide greater security.
A second source of recording vehicle motion under SE5000 regulations, devised as a means of detecting fraud, will also be required from next year. Although digital tachographs will be mandatory in cabs from 1 October of this year, the secondary system will not be phased in until October 2012. Although this provides only a limited time to prepare, one of the major suppliers, Stonebridge Electronics, has stated that they are already testing their tachographs and expect to have them ready for SE5000 Type Approval (including compliancy for the second source of motion) as of this March. It is felt that having two systems is likely to cause some concern over the way that the authorities will police them as there could be two kinds of drivers' cards containing variants in data.
New legislation will end the controversy over the 'one minute rule'.