Tachographs are an essential tool in logistics. They track vehicle activity to stop drivers exceeding their permitted time on the road. It means driver fatigue is less likely, and so too are the associated risks. According to the latest reports, however, the number of drivers driving for longer than permitted is on the up. Why? It’s partly down to tachograph tampering – and it can have very serious implications for businesses linked with the malpractice.
This post explores tachograph tampering, the problems it poses for businesses and whether there’s a solution.
A growing trend
A recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 69% of manufacturers expected difficulties when searching for appropriate candidates to fill high-skilled roles in the future. It was also found that 80% of businesses expected to have more roles for highly-skilled staff in the next few years.
The most interesting discovery made by the survey, however, was that firms seemingly blamed the education system for a lack of skilled workers, with more than half of the companies polled showing dissatisfaction with the organisation, work experience, analysis and communication skills of school leavers.
Efforts to boost skills “must go further”
In the European Union, drivers’ working hours are regulated by EU regulation (EC) 561/2006. What does this mean? Quite simply, they mustn’t drive non-stop for more than 4.5 hours, after which they are required to take a break of at least 45 minutes. They must also not drive for more than:
- 9 hours in one day, increasing to 10 hours two days per week
- 56 hours in a week
- 90 hours in the space of two weeks
So, how is this enforced? That’s where tachographs come in. They are a simple digital device fitted to vehicles that tracks and records their activity. In theory, they should stop drivers exceeding these limits – as those who do can be caught and prosecuted when their tachograph is checked.
However, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has discovered more drivers tampering with their tachographs in 2016-17. Compared to 2015-16, they found a 21% increase in drivers with manipulated tachographs. A number of them are doing so using sophisticated ‘interrupters’, which disable the tachograph completely.
Illegal and dangerous
This malpractice is dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, driver fatigue. Driving for long periods causes tiredness, which reduces awareness and increases the risk of an accident. It’s estimated to be a factor in over 30% of crashes on the road. That’s exactly why the EU limits are in place.
Tachograph tampering is also dangerous because of the ‘side effects’ of using interrupters. The devices, which disable a vehicle’s tachograph, also interfere with its braking system and speedometer, meaning drivers are in much less control of the vehicle when using an interrupter.
Behind the tampering
So, why are drivers breaking the law in this way, given the obvious risks? One reason is money. Some drivers aren’t earning enough money, and want to drive for longer to earn more. Moreover, the technology is becoming more advanced and more readily available. Without the necessary training and information, it’s understandable that a lot of drivers will succumb to the temptation of these interrupting devices – if it means they can get more in their pocket.
Then there’s the companies themselves. It’s thought some businesses are pressuring employees to use the devices, so they can cut down transport times. As more hauliers take the risk of manipulating tachographs, it makes it harder for those adhering to the law to compete. In March 2017, for instance, a driver was stopped after working for an estimated 23 hours without a break. This duration would take a driver 3 working days to complete if they adhere to EU limits.
Unfortunately, the penalty for manipulating a tachograph is as low as £300 in some countries. As a result, some drivers and companies will happily take the risk. However, in the UK, drivers (and their employers) can be fined up to £5,000, be taken off the road and face up to two years in prison for tachograph-tampering or failing to adhere to drive-time limits.prentice.
Tackling the trend
To prevent these kinds of incidences occurring – and businesses falling foul to the regulations – employees need to have an in-depth understanding of legislation. It’s up to businesses to provide this through proper training, which is regularly updated.
This is where Bis Henderson Academy can help. Our training and apprenticeship programmes keep staff up to date with the latest regulatory requirements and reflect the best practice of the industry. Quite simply, we provide employees with industry-recognised qualifications and the confidence to work to the best of their ability.
How we do it
At Bis Henderson Academy, we’re passionate about developing the supply chain and logistics professionals of the future. We provide training to leading employers throughout the sector, either through our own trainers or recognised partners.
Our programmes aren’t just delivered to low-level employees. Senior team members are also given training. This ensures they are prepared to deal with any broken regulations or fraud issues effectively and in the correct manner.
Because we effectively utilise the Apprenticeship Levy to fund as much of the training as possible, our programmes are also highly cost effective. Get in touch today to discuss training and apprenticeship programmes for your business with a member of our expert team.