Press release
 

Fewer driving hours mean fewer accidents - final deal approved - digital tachographs in May 2006

Transport - 01-02-2006 - 15:20
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EP to approve stricter road safety rules

EP to approve stricter road safety rules

Road accidents caused by driver fatigue should be reduced when Parliament approved measures that will lead to all new trucks and buses in the European Union being fitted with digital tachographs from 1 May 2006. The measure will carefully monitor the hours the vehicle is driven and form part of a package of road safety legislation approved by Parliament that includes for the first time a list of common serious road safety infringements.

 
The package approved after a conciliation agreement concerns two related proposals:
 
First a regulation on working time, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in road transport of goods and passengers; and second, a Directive on the enforcement of the relevant legislation through checks and penalties. 
 
Major points of disagreement between Parliament and Council, affecting both the Regulation and the Directive, concerned the introduction of a common spectrum of penalties for infringements of the relevant legislation, as well as the inclusion of the road transport into the Working Time Directive so that the time a driver spends driving to his place of assignment and/or to (un)load his lorry could also be taken into account. Other key issues concerned the introduction of digital tachographs (which are more difficult to falsify than non-digital tachographs), the number of minimum checks to be carried out by Member States and rest periods and breaks for drivers. Conciliation opened formally on 12 October 2005. The key points of the agreement reached by the Conciliation Committee on 6 December 2005 were:
 
• from May 2006, all new vehicles will have to be fitted with digital tachographs;
• higher levels of checks will be introduced a year earlier than originally proposed;
• a list of common serious infringements was agreed and the Commission undertook to draw-up in the future a more detailed list of common infringements;
• recitals acknowledging the risks arising from driver fatigue and the importance of the Working Time Directive for the creation of a common market for road safety and for working conditions were included in the text;
• Council and Parliament disagreed on the length of a compulsory daily rest period for drivers: in order not to block the legislation, Parliament finally accepted the figure (11 hours) proposed by Council.
 
 
In more detail:
 
1) Rest periods for drivers
 
Parliament and Council had disagreed on the definition of a compulsory regulatory daily rest period for drivers.  Council wanted this to mean an uninterrupted period of rest of at least 11 hours.  Parliament would have preferred 12 hours but finally accepted the Council's figure in order not to block the legislation.
 
However, it was agreed that this rest period may, as an alternative, be taken in two periods, the first an interrupted period of at least 3 hours and the second an uninterrupted period of at least 9 hours.
 
2) Minimum checks
 
At Parliament's insistence the Council also had to accept that checks carried out by Member States should be increased from 2008 to at least 2% of days worked by drivers falling within the scope of the new legislation, and to at least 3% from 2010. The Council had originally proposed 2% from 2009 and 3% from 2011.
 
3) Common infringements and penalties
 
Council could not accept any reference to the harmonisation of penalties, arguing that penalties were a matter for the Member States. Nevertheless at Parliament's insistence the Council finally agreed to the introduction of a list of common infringements in the annex to the directive. In a declaration issued by the Commission the latter undertakes to provide a detailed list in future, which will be based on proposals by Parliament. Thus, serious infringements against the new regulation will include the following: exceeding the maximum daily, six-day or fortnightly driving time limits by a margin of 20% or more; disregarding the minimum daily or weekly rest period by a margin of 20% or more, disregarding the minimum break by a margin of 33% or more and using a tachograph not fitted in accordance with the requirements of the regulation.
 
4) Working Time Directive
 
On this issue, the Council stuck to its common position and refused to accept the inclusion, as Parliament wanted, of a reference to the Working Time Directive (Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities), so that a link could be established with the new legislation. All compromise proposals tabled by the EP delegation on this issue were turned down by the Council and this proved the most difficult issue to solve.
 
The two institutions finally agreed to include, in the recitals (the preamble) to the new directive, a reference to the importance of the Working Time Directive for the creation of a common market for road safety and for working conditions, and to include in the same directive a new recital stating that the risks from driver fatigue should also be addressed through enforcement of the Working Time Directive.
 
Comments by EP delegation
 
Parliament's delegation leader, Vice-President Alejo VIDAL-QUADRAS  (EPP-ED, ES), said the outcome of this conciliation agreement was a fair compromise between the two institutions. Rapporteur Helmuth MARKOV (GUE/NGL, DE), however, voted against the final compromise, explaining that he could not accept the conciliation agreement as long as it did not establish a clear link between the new legislation and the Working Time Directive.
 
Background
 
The aim of the regulation on driving times, breaks and rest periods, which will abrogate and replace Regulation 3820/85/EC is to update, clarify and simplify the EU legislation for drivers engaged in the carriage of goods and passengers by road.
 
The accompanying directive dealing with checks and penalties will abrogate and replace Directive 88/599/EC and update and enhance the quality and quantity of enforcement operations relating to road transport activities.
 
 
REF.: 20060131IPR04893