For over ten months the London Borough of Croydon’s transport department failed to carry out any downloads from vehicle tachograph units. Traffic commissioner Nick Denton, who subsequently suspended the council’s licence, has called for a ‘vast improvement on digital tachograph records’.
During a previous public inquiry in 2014, the council had said it would carry out monthly downloads. However this was not followed through – owing to IT problems.
“No one in the council’s IT department or otherwise in a senior position appears to have realised the importance of effecting downloads from the vehicle units until quite late on,” said Denton. “The transport manager did not have effective line management over drivers.”
He added that operators should be aware that if they fail to meet standards of vehicle and driver safety, there will be ‘consequences for their licence’.
“I am concerned about the culture of downloading digital data across the industry and these two cases illustrate the problem most acutely. Both operators abandoned their responsibilities for considerable periods of time,” said Denton. “Without carrying out downloads, how could they possibly know whether drivers were working legally and safely? How could they satisfy their licence commitments?”
According to the commissioner, operators who fail to abide by tachograph regulations generally fall into one of five categories:
1.they acquire a digital vehicle, do not know what to do with it and just stick their head in the sand hoping all the complexity will just go away;
- they download data from driver cards and vehicle unit but don’t do anything with the data – it just stays in the computer;
3.they download the driver cards but not the vehicle unit, meaning that they do not know if and when drivers have driven vehicles without their card in the tachograph;
- they download all the data correctly and analyse it for infringements. But they don’t take any action over these infringements – they simply hand drivers their latest infringement report and see them next month for an exactly similar report;
- they download the data correctly, analyse it to identify infringements, explain the infringements to drivers and educate (or discipline) them into driving within the rules in future. This is where every operator should be.