New enforcement rules for over-hours commercial driving

While only a tiny percentage of professional commercial drivers would even consider doing so, it’s a fact that tachograph tampering and over-hours driving continues to be an issue in some cases.

As a result, the government in the shape of the DVSA (Driver Vehicle Standards Agency) have been given new powers to hit offending drivers hard with increased fines.

The history

The tachograph is a device that records a number of vehicle performance issues, including the duration and speed of driving over a given period of time.

Its invention dates back over a century but in terms of the European Union, it was first made compulsory on qualifying commercial vehicles as far back as 1986. Since then the legislation has been regularly updated.

There were, in fact, several objectives behind its introduction but perhaps the most important, as well as best-known, is that relating to drivers’ hours and the safety of road users. The logic was accepted by all – tired drivers make dangerous drivers, so their hours must be capped.

True, legislation relating to limiting drivers’ hours existed, however prior to the tachograph it was difficult or impossible to monitor and enforce.

The introduction of the tachograph provided a means of monitoring drivers’ hours, thereby making it easier to enforce maximum driving hours legislation by punishing transgressors.

Today’s position

A DVSA roadside survey conducted between 2016 and 2017 covered almost a quarter of a million vehicles. Unfortunately, it found that the number of tachograph tampering incidents had increased by 21% over the previous survey conducted 12 months earlier.

It’s to be presumed that a majority of such tampering related to drivers – or their employing companies – attempting to bypass the maximum permitted driving hours legislation. This is, of course, reckless and highly dangerous.

Not only could such tampering result in more tired HGV drivers on the road, but also potentially put elements of the vehicles’ systems at risk. Tampering with a tachograph is not easy and it can result in problems for systems such as the brakes and suspension control.

Government action

As a result of this survey, the government has increased its fines regime. The DVSA can now issue roadside fines:

  • up to £300 for a single incident;
  • cumulative fines for 5 offences recorded within a 28-day period meaning a maximum £1,500 fine is possible;
  • foreign vehicles will be required to pay on the spot and will be immobilised until the sum is paid.

The insurance dimension

It’s worth keeping in mind that a typical condition of haulage and transport insurance is that your vehicle is maintained and operated in accordance with the prevailing laws. That would, of course, include making sure that your tachograph was functioning correctly.

Any driver or company found to be tampering with tachographs might find that elements of their haulage insurance were/ are at risk; which might lead to their claim, or parts of it, being rejected.

Insurance questions

At Aston Scott Insurance Brokers, we are experts in transportation insurance. If you have any questions or concerns relating to your cover, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03300 085045.

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