EU has set directives concerning drive times and rest periods, especially for the drivers of heavy vehicles. The regulations are aimed at improving the working conditions of drivers and road safety. In order to control that these regulations are followed EU set a directive making it mandatory to install a digital tachograph from 1 May 2006 onwards in all new vehicles having a mass of more than 3,5 tons (in goods transport) and carrying more than 9 persons ( in passenger transport). However, due to digital tachograph technology and the way the directive was constructed it has been very difficult and inefficient to collect the data from the tachographs installed in the vehicles. This has also been an important reason why the directive has not been sufficiently followed. The authorities in many European countries have now begun imposing heavy sanctions to those companies not following the directives.
With the communications technology available today it is clear that the download of digital tachograph data must be made remotely over the air – and made easy for drivers and fleet companies. This will bring big savings, fewer kilometers driven and many other benefits as fleet operators will simultaneously get the working hour data as well as other useful data from their vehicles and of driver’s driving behavior.
As there are several digital tachograph manufactures who have versatile device versions, and various vehicle models use different solutions, it is crucial that the providers of remote download solutions of digital tachogaphs have solid understanding of the communications and telematics technology. The most benefits are gained when vehicles are equipped with separate programmable on board units capable of providing all needed fleet management services.
EU directives and regulations regarding drivers working hours are very important. Only the capability of remote download of the tachograph data, via GPRS mobile networks, makes it possible to effectively follow the directives. EU should support actively this process and look after that the digital tachograph manufacturers and also vehicle manufacturers favour open protocols to give fleet companies the possibility to always use the best products and services for their operations.