European tachographs the future, IAP destined to fail

By: Jason Whittaker

European company Road Tech will this week meet with industry and government bodies to promote its tachograph software program amid

European company Road Tech will this week meet with industry and government bodies to promote its tachograph software program amid claims by the company that the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) will fail.

In a sign the move to mandatory tacographs is underway, the National Transport Commission (NTC) will meet with Road Tech on Wednesday, with Linfox hearing a presentation on the benefits of the Tachomaster tool on Friday.

Road Tech Managing Director Derek Beevor has flown out for the talks, designed to educate industry and government on the benefits of ensuring any move to tachographs is backed up by an effective and efficient software program.

In a demonstration to ATN, Beevor showed the program monitors vehicle usage, driver availability, a breakdown of how many hours each employee has worked, rest periods and infringements per day.

Under the program in Europe, drivers carry a smartcard — issued by transport authorities — and insert it into a card reader in the truck once they start driving. After they finish their shift, drivers take out the card and plug it into another card reader at the depot which downloads the data to Road Tech’s web-based software program.

According to Beevor, the software program cuts the need for burdensome paperwork as Tachomaster automatically updates and stores information that can be accessed by companies as well as individual employees at their whim.

Furthermore, in an effort to allay industry fears, Beevor says the information is strictly private, meaning individual companies are the only ones that can access personal information.

The European model stipulates government enforcement agencies must go to individual companies if they wish to access information regarding the tachograph’s findings.

This situation is in stark contrast to the IAP model, which will send information to government agencies.

But Beevor questioned whether the program will work, as similar projects in Europe have failed in the past and cost governments in excess of $150 million.

Beevor says road user charges introduced in Germany and the United Kingdom were based on a GPS formula like IAP which ran into complications when information was transmitted.

By introducing a system whereby information will be transmitted via airwaves like mobile phones, Beevor says Australian governments are setting themselves up for failure.

"As soon as you … remotely look at that, you are introducing ten-fold more complications because you are then having to transmit that data back to somebody. So you are bringing in telecommunications and telematics into trucks," he says.

He points to failures in adequate reception in certain areas regarding telecommunication networks as the reason why information will be lost when being transmitted.

"It’s far too complex," he says. "It’s very, very naïve."

Based on his experiences in Europe, Beevor says systems using GPS tracking are susceptible to tampering and malfunction. He says operators can simply cover their GPS aerials with something as simple as tinfoil or putty to cut out the tracking signal.

Road Tech’s system, however, will show up any attempts made by drivers to tamper with their smart cards, according to Beevor.

Furthermore, he says the software system has not crashed since starting up in line with mandatory tachographs 18 months ago.

Tachomaster has gained widespread support from European trucking companies since its introduction. Beevor attributes this to the fact businesses can instantly access relevant statistics on their drivers and effectively monitor business activities simply by having access to the internet.

More on Road Tech and the European example of tachographs in the April edition of ATN magazine. Call 1800 649 578 to secure your copy, or subscribe online.

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