Specifications for a new generation of digital tachographs informally agreed by the Parliament and Council negotiators in May were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. "Smart" tachographs will lead to better enforcement of driving and resting times, make fraud more difficult, enhance road safety and reduce controls for businesses.

"The revised rules represent a balance between road safety and working conditions on the one hand and respect for private life and the data of drivers on the other hand. Parliament supported the introduction of the smart tachograph because it would improve enforcement of rules and reduce the administrative burden for transport companies which use tachographs in the medium and long term," said the rapporteur, Mrs Silvia-Adriana Ticau (S&D, RO).

Under the revised rules, smart tachographs will be fitted to new vehicles within three years once the Commission has set out the technical specifications. Fifteen years after that, they will have to be fitted, or retrofitted, to all vehicles used for professional transport.

The "smart" tachographs, will be able to automatically record speed and distance, start and final location. They will also enable downloading and remote checking, via wireless data transmission to control authorities, for easier detection of misuse or manipulation. No fines or sanctions can be imposed solely on the basis of remote- control checks but the new system will help reduce roadside checks for companies and target "black sheep".

Craftsmen are exempted

Trucks of less than 7.5 tonnes will be exempted if they carry materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of his work and used within a radius of 100 km of the headquarters of the undertaking, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver’s main activity.

Control officers will be better trained and equipped and stricter requirements will apply to workshops responsible for installing tachographs.