Digital inspection of the driving activities on board road transport vehicles

What is digital vehicle inspection ?

In the transport sector, digital vehicle inspection is mandatory. It allows for verification that each vehicle complies with road regulations.

Within the European Union (EU), this is notably a guarantee of a level playing field between countries in terms of the market for the road transport of people and goods, to improve working conditions for drivers and increase road safety.

Inspections may be carried out by the State authorities on the data transmitted by an inspection device: the cronotachograph. This mandatory digital device records various information relating to the driving of the vehicle: time spent behind the wheel, rest periods, speed, anomalies, etc.

Characteristics of the digital vehicle inspection

Since 2006, all road transport vehicles carrying goods or people with a maximum permissible laden weight (MPLW) greater than 3.5 tonnes must be equipped with a digital cronotachograph.

This digital inspection device looks like a car radio and is used to record data on the driving of the vehicle. This information may be:

  • used by the company that manages the vehicle fleet, for inspection and maintenance purposes;
  • requested by an inspector from the authorised State authorities (DREAL, DIRRECTE, etc) in case of inspection of the conditions on board the vehicle.

A digital vehicle inspection system is notably used to verify that the driver is complying with working time directives, mandatory breaks, maximum driving speeds, etc.

From 19 June 2019, any new vehicle put into service must be equipped with a 2nd generation cronotachograph. These digital devices integrate new features to protect data in accordance with the GDPR.

Examples and application

Digital data recorded by a cronotachograph

There are various types of digital tachographs. Depending on the model and generation, chronotachographs are more or less advanced and record various information including:

  • the vehicle identification (identification and registration number) ;
  • driving time, availability and rest as well as working time ;
  • activities recorded over the last 12 months and kilometres travelled each year ;
  • card insertions: date, time and odometer reading when inserting and removing the card, along with the number. As well as the name of the driver, and if they have carried out a manual entry or not;
  • events and anomalies observed with timestamp (driving without card, interruption of the electricity supply, etc) ;
  • excessive speed ;
  • technical interventions carried out on the lorry and regular inspections ;
  • instantaneous speed, recorded second by second over the last 24 hours of driving.

On 2nd generation cronortachographs, it is also possible to determine the GNSS position of the vehicle every 3 hours of driving, or each time the card is removed or inserted.

Obligations of carriers regarding digital vehicle inspection

Transport companies must download the data at least every 95 days. Different tools can be used to recover the corresponding files to be archived.

In case of inspection, this information must be communicated to the competent authorities. Otherwise, the transport company is liable for a fine.

Digital vehicle inspection in figures

Regulatory framework

Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of 15 March 2006 on driving, break and rest times in the road transport sector applicable to drivers of vehicles over 3.5 T.