Today (1 May) marks the first anniversary of the introduction of the digital tachograph to all new commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes registered in the United Kingdom. Since 1 May 2006 some 40,000 new lorries have all been required to fit and use the new technology following almost 25 years of the analogue tachograph since its progressive introduction in the early 1980s. Some 245,000 drivers have now been issued with the required smart card together with 32,000 companies.
The Freight Transport Association says that the changeover from analogue to digital has been relatively trouble free and that both managers and drivers are to be congratulated on their competence in adapting to the new technology so smoothly.
FTA's General Manager – Training, Brian Szukala said, 'It is very clear that as drivers and back-office staff become familiar with the new kit and the new systems, then they do not see much in the way of problems with digital tachographs – only benefits.
'Minor infringements on hours, breaks and rest periods have almost become a thing of the past, and the facility for the immediate provision of information from print-outs and downloads, giving complex information at the touch of a button, has been a big plus. Drivers and managers can review operations clearly and regularly, aiding legal compliance and operational efficiency.
'The availability of good equipment and good software has clearly increased the confidence of managers and drivers and the results are in the increasingly good record of reduced infringements.
'Those operators who have delayed the purchase of new vehicles in order to postpone their use of digital tachos can take confidence from the experience of those that have made the leap and I believe that we will see an accelerated take-up of new users in the coming months. In addition FTA is talking to a number of large fleets which are considering major retro-fit programmes in order to have their entire fleet operating on one standard rather than two.
'Digital tachographs were a long time coming, but a year into their operation almost all of the news is good.'
The tachograph is the equipment which monitors and records the times, speeds and distances which a vehicle is driven.
Some 2,000 managers attended FTA briefing meetings on the digital tachograph during 2006 and almost 400 attended special management workshops. Almost 450 managers attended the FTA 'train the trainers' programme and FTA has conducted 375 in-company projects attended by a total of almost 3,500 personnel.
FTA offers a wide range of digital tachograph solutions to help vehicle operators manage a smooth transition from analogue to digital. FTA's product range is designed to meet individual operators' needs; as such FTA offers both an on-site and bureaux analysis range plus extensive training and product solutions. To find out more, operators should call FTA's dedicated digital tachograph line on 08700 11 57 15 or visit www.digitaltachograph.fta.co.uk