Tachograph fitment to heavier vans set to be mandated from 2020 for ‘cross border’ vehicles

The fitment of tachographs to light commercial vehicles between 2.4 and 3.5 tonnes to regulate drivers’ hours look set to become mandatory in 2020.

However, it has now emerged that behind the scenes discussions mean that only vans in the 2.4 -3.5 tonne weight category that operate across country borders, for example between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the UK and France, will be impacted.

The plan for tachographs to be fitted to be fitted to vans between 2.4 and 3.5 tonnes was floated in May last year when the European Union published the second draft of its so-called ‘Mobility Package’.

Since then there have been rounds of discussions between European Parliament members and member states on the proposal. During those meetings there was, it has emerged, support for a suggestion that if a van remained within the national border where it was registered, for example the UK with no journeys taking place in another country, no tachograph would be required.

Discussions on the initiative continue with major issues still to be resolved, but Sarah Laouadi, European policy manager at the Freight Transport Association, told Buzz that she anticipated that the final legislation would only apply to vans that travelled across borders.

In that case fleet operators would, for example, not only have to fit vans in the 2.4-3.5-tonne category with tachographs, but would also have to obtain an Operator Licence as is the case for businesses operating vehicles above 3.5 tonnes.

Ms Laouadi said: “I expect agreement on most aspects of the ‘Mobility Package’, including tachographs in vans, to be reached early in 2020 and the legislation to be implemented later next year.”

Although the UK is due to leave the European Union there will be a transition period that could extend as long as 2022. The UK Government has indicated that all European Union law – both existing and that introduced during the transition period – will be transferred into UK law.

Furthermore, following the transition period the European Union will require that, in the case of the UK commercial vehicle sector, it is compliant with all regulations to access the market. Consequently, UK registered 2.4-3.5-tonne vans that are driven across national borders into European Union member states will have to be equipped with tachographs.

The European Union’s timetable for implementation of the ‘Mobility Package’ would appear to have slipped as it was due for introduction in 2019.

When the idea first emerged of tachographs being fitted to the heaviest vans, in the same way that all HGVs are required to be fitted with the technology, the FTA called the measure “an unfair and excessive exercise in red tape”.

When the plan was first mooted, James Hookham, deputy CEO of the FTA, said the proposal would have a serious impact on the working lives of those using Britain’s four million vans in their daily business:

He said: “Forgetting the cost implications of tachograph installation for so many hard-working British businesses, the introduction of this equipment in the van sector would be pointless and time consuming. Will small business really have the time and ability to analyse the necessary data and plan their work around so many new working time rules? Would governments have the resources to enforce the move? The proposal is simply unenforceable, and a case of MEPs making bad decisions on the fly.”

Van operators, said the FTA, were already facing increasing pressure with the introduction of Clean Air Zones in London and potentially in other to towns and cities nationwide and a requirement to update their vehicles to the newest Euro6 emission standard or face paying an charge to enter an area covered by a Zone.

Mr Hookham continued: “Vans are now central to our daily lives, with next day deliveries a given for households and business. Introducing a pointless measure like tachographs for van operators will not benefit small and medium sized businesses but strangle them with red tape, at a time when they should be being encouraged to flourish and expand.”

The ‘Mobility Package’, called ‘Europe on the Move’ was first presented in May 2017. It included a wide-ranging set of initiatives designed to make roads safer and improve air quality. The initial eight measures were subsequently added to with one of those being in the fitment of tachographs in vans between 2.4 and 3.5 tonnes.

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