Before this legislative change, those sub-3.5 tonne vehicles physically unable to house a digital tachograph suddenly became illegal to drive if they breached the weight threshold bringing them under drivers’ hours rules and necessitating a tachograph.
Now that digital tachograph adaptors have been given the green light, operators of vehicles that require a tachograph when towing a trailer, for example, can have an adaptor fitted to avoid any compliance issues.
Before this ruling the European Commission would not allow a speed signal to be taken from anywhere other than the gearbox area. In smaller vehicles this made fitting a tachograph difficult and, in certain cases, impossible thus rendering them illegal to operate.
Andy Mair, FTA’s Head of Engineering Policy, told Tachoblog, “We spotted this problem quite early on and raised it with the European Commission, putting across the concerns of vehicle operators at the smaller end of the market. The ruling will make compliance easier and more practicable for an often overlooked group.”
Before the ruling, FTA had sought assurances from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) that any vehicles falling into the scope of drivers’ hours – but technically unable to incorporate a digital tachograph – would not be penalised if caught. As some solutions are available for light vehicles, such as VOSA-approved mechanical adaptations, they agreed to apply the law on a case-by-case basis, but would not commit to a formal policy of discretion.
Mair concluded, “While we are pleased with the ruling, the devil is in the detail and the adaptor is only going to be permissible for vehicles first put into service up until 2013. After that point it is unclear what manufacturers are doing to ensure that digital tachographs can be fitted to smaller vehicles. We are seeking advice from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.”
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