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The original tachograph (often referred to as the analogue or chrono tachograph) has been in existence for many years and its origins can be traced back to the era of the Jones Recorder of 1912. Whilst the instrument has increased in sophistication since first introduced, concern increased regarding the instrument’s ease of use, its susceptibility to misuse and fraudulent operation, and its ability to offer an effective and secure system for the recording and monitoring of drivers’ hours and vehicle activity.

The advent of digital electronics, the growing power of computing and its ever-increasing cost effectiveness, resulted in increased pressure to update the chrono tachograph. Following a proposal from the European Commission and opinions expressed by the Economic and Social Committee a decision was taken to replace the current system with a digital version – a digital tachograph.

The need to develop a more effective system was agreed, inter alia, because “experience has shown that the economic pressures and competition in road transport have led some drivers employed by road haulage companies to flout certain rules, particularly those concerning the driving and rest times laid down in Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 on the harmonisation of certain legislation relating to road transport.”

It has been generally acknowledged that fraudulent activities in road transport create the potential for reducing safety and disadvantaging those that do respect the rules in their day-to-day activities. Furthermore, it is generally considered difficult to monitor compliance with regulations given that data is recorded on several daily record sheets, wherein the record sheets for the current week and the last day of the previous week are stored in vehicle cabs.

The purpose of the new system is, therefore, “to put an end to the most common abuses of the present system” by introducing new “advanced recording equipment fitted with an electronic device for storing relevant information and a personal driver card, so ensuring that the data recorded are retrievable, intelligible when printed out, and reliable, and that they provide an indisputable record of the work done by both the driver over the last few days and by the vehicle over a period of several months.”

The benefits of this development will be trans-national and wide-ranging, conferring direct benefits to all citizens in each and every Member State in the form of:

• safer working conditions for employees;
• enhanced profitability for companies;
• a safer, more environmentally friendly road transport