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Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

With tachograph tampering being a hot topic over the last year we thought we’d explore and delve into the issues that surround it.  Tachographs have an integral part to play in HGVs and commercial vehicles as they record driving time, breaks, rest periods and other types of work carried out by the driver.   When the UK joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973, a social regulation was accepted under the treaty of Accession to support the work of lorry and coach drivers.  In 1979 the UK was held in breach of the rules and regulations and new legislation was put in place to make sure all commercial vehicles had tachographs installed by the end of 1981.  Fast forward to 2006 and the digital tachograph was born and compulsory for all new commercials registered on or after 1st May 2006.

 

 

More recently, tachographs have seen a lot of attention in the news and, unfortunately, this isn’t because they’re incredibly helpful and useful to the wellbeing of drivers.  A BBC investigation found last year that there had been a 21% increase in tachograph tampering compared to 2016.  In a bid to crack down on these misdemeanours, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 223,000 roadside checks between April 2016 and March 2017 – a move we fully supported.  During that time, the DVSA found 400 drivers that had crossed the border into the UK and were using “interrupters” to switch off their tachographs.  A Bulgarian driver was stopped in North Wales for using an “interrupter” and driving non-stop for 23 hours.  Using such a device disables a lorry’s advanced braking system and speedometer – a dangerous move which poses a threat to all road users.

 

The whole concept certainly begs the question of why drivers would cheat their tachograph and risk their own and other road users’ safety.

Are unscrupulous businesses themselves putting the pressure on drivers through their company culture of looking the other way, making it appear to be the norm for drivers to exceed their legal hours?  There’s also the darker side, are some drivers distracted by the attraction of more money and finding that tampering with a tachograph is a short cut to this?  Alternatively, could these unscrupulous business owners be allowing this and looking the other way?

 

The consequences of breaching the use of a tachograph start with penalties of up to £5000.  A prison sentence isn’t out of the question either, as was found with two former haulage directors who conspired with drivers to tamper with tachograph records.  They both received sentences of 2 years and 18 months and had some hefty fines to pay.  On a more serious level, crimes of this nature have caused a tragic amount of unnecessary deaths on the road.  According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents driver fatigue may be a contributory factor to 20% of road accidents and 25% of fatal or serious crashes.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we work closely with all our clients and together we take the safety of HGV drivers very seriously and of course others on the roads.  The dangerous decision to tamper with a tachograph can have devastating consequences, with this in mind it’s of vital importance for logistics operators to communicate with their employees and vice versa.  If a driver is feeling concerned about meeting strict deadlines, it must be addressed in a safe and legal manner.  One conversation with an employer could discourage break skipping and, in turn, save a life.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we encourage plenty of communication between drivers and management, creating a culture where all can bring forward any issues they may have.  We hope that other businesses follow – for the sake of drivers’ physical and mental wellbeing and the safety of our roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that time of year again…

After the year that called for lower alcohol limit, we are now heading into the party season and there has been a fresh call to reduce the drink driving limit.

The move follows new statistics which show that drink-driving figures have shown no improvement since 2010.  The figure of 240 people killed in collisions where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit has remained unchanged since 2013.

The new campaign for a lower limit is being led by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and supported by a number of stakeholders including the RAC Foundation, the AA, IAM RoadSmart Brake, PACTS and the Police Federation.  The current 80mg limit in England in Wales was set in 1965, but in 2014, Scotland lowered its drink-drive limit to 50mg/100ml – bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.  Malta is now the only country with a drink-drive limit the same as England and Wales, and is also set to lower its limit to 50mg/100ml, leaving us behind.

According to the IAS, reducing the limit to 50mg/100ml would save at least 25 lives per year.  The Department for Transport statistics also show that drink driving costs Great Britain £800m each year, and a British Social Attitudes Survey shows 77 per cent of the public support a lower legal limit.

Due to car and technological advances, we have seen a continual improvement in road safety in every other area except in regards to drink drinking.  Every year more than 3,000 people in the UK are killed or injured as a result of crashes on our roads relating to drink–driving and this number predictably spikes over the Christmas period.

So whilst we pick out our outfits for the office party season, forces across the country are braced for their traditionally hectic festive and New Year period, trying hard to raise awareness of the dangers on our roads and keep people safe as they travel around. It’s a busy time for us at Drivers Direct too with the placing of drivers of all classes for clients who need support either on a temporary, seasonal or more permanent basis.

Even a very small amount of alcohol can affect driving performance with two drinks almost doubling the risk of a fatal accident.  In general, people are getting far better at staying away from the wheel after one too many during the night but too many are quick to jump back behind it after a sleep, unaware that they are still over the limit.

So don’t take chances. Drive safe and stay safe this winter.

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Everything you need to know before taking to the road this winter

Our unpredictable and destructive winter weather conditions can cause issues for everyone on the roads, in particular professional drivers who have to operate large and heavy goods vehicles. To help prepare for the season ahead, we’ve put together some advice to prepare professional drivers for the winter weather.

No matter how the weather seems on the day of your journey, you will always need to check the weather forecast ahead of time to prepare your vehicle accordingly for any unexpected weather conditions. Not only that, you will want to take a thorough look at your planned route for any information on road accidents or weather-related collisions to help prepare you and your vehicle for the journey ahead.

Vehicle checks are always essential before any journey specifically during the winter as the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable. You’ll need to ensure you have all of your necessary equipment with you to check your vehicle on the go and well insulated clothing for checking your vehicle in cold weather or if you were to break down.

Even though your daily checks will include ensuring your wipers, screen wash and de-misters are appropriate for driving, you’ll need to make a habit of ensuring your windows, lights, plates, and reflective markings, steps and handrails are clear of ice, snow, and dirt.

The weight of your vehicle can make a substantial difference to your vehicle’s handling at this time of year when gusty weather is likely to occur. Getting the right balance is key in windy weather. If your load is too light you could get blown off course by a strong side wind, but if it’s too heavy your vehicle handling can become increasingly difficult; especially around corners.

If extreme weather conditions come into play like heavy ice and snow, gritters and snow ploughs should be around to clear main roads; but don’t assume smaller, rural roads will be covered too. You’ll need to exercise extreme caution on all roads in these weather conditions, especially if your route requires you to take rural roads.

Most importantly: don’t take dangerous risks with yourself or your cargo.

If you come into contact with dangerous weather conditions on your journey and you do not feel equipped to deal with it, take a break in a place that’s safe to stop and only continue your journey when you feel safe enough to do so. It would also be worth reporting back to base to let them and other know of the situation before continuing safely.

 

 

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