EU must issue warning on tachograph manipulation

29 October 2008

EU must issue warning on tachograph manipulation

The tachograph on a lorry can be manipulated with a magnet in order to give a false reading of working hours. A driver who refuses to agree to this under pressure from his or her boss risks getting the sack, according to Dutch trade union group FNV-Bondgenoten. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer, who sits on the European Parliament's Transport Committee, is urging the European Commission to inform the member states immediately about such practices and how they might be stopped.


The FNV has collected evidence regarding the practice and an item on the issue appeared recently on the popular Dutch television documentary programme NOVA. Using a magnet, driving times can be recorded as rest periods by obstructing a lorry's tachograph, giving a false picture of working hours and of distances covered. The magazine Transport reports in today's edition that the Dutch national transport inspectorate has been aware of this 'magnet fraud' for almost a year, but believes that the practice is not widespread.

The digital tachograph is primarily aimed at improving the working conditions of truckers and bus drivers. The registration of driving times and rest periods is, as a result of the device, less vulnerable to fraud than it was up to 2006 when an earlier version of the tachograph was in use. Transport employers have challenged FNV-Bondgenoten findings, but have not denied that breaches of the rules governing driving times and rest periods occur frequently in the sector. Checks have established that one in ten drivers at any given time should not be behind the wheel as they are breaking the working time rules.


"I want the European Commission to investigate this matter and inform the member states as to how the abuse can be countered," says Erik Meijer. "It's not only bad for the enforcement of driving and rest times, but also, if the milometer is interfered with, for the maintenance of lorries. Safety is at issue here, including that of other road users. In the transport sector relations between employers and workers are under pressure as a result of intense competition. It's good that FNV-Bondgenoten have exposed the intimidation of employees. It's quite bizarre that haulage firms, when these abuses are discovered, are able to blame the drivers for them."

Meijer has tabled a number of written questions on the issue to the Commission.

You are here