The time limit for downloading data from a digital tachograph is to be extended from the current 56 days to 90 days by the end of this year, the DfT has confirmed.

In a document summarising responses to a series of proposals made in late 2012 to help reduce red tape in the transport sector, the DfT said it had decided to adopt the European time limit for vehicle unit downloads of 90 days after consulting with a number of bodies including trade associations and enforcement bodies.

Although the consultation yielded mixed responses, with some in favour of the flexibility a longer timeframe would give truck operators but others concerned that it might hinder enforcement of drivers’ hours rules by making it more difficult to gather evidence for prosecutions, the DfT has decided to proceed, explaining in the document: “We do not believe these enforcement difficulties will be significant.”

A spokesman for the DfT told this was because the DVSA (the enforcement body formed from Vosa and the DSA) “can request the data anytime from an operator – it doesn’t have to wait 90 days to access it”.

A spokeswoman for the DVSA declined to comment on the impacts on enforcement, simply referring back to the DfT.

James Firth, head of road freight and enforcement at the FTA, said the change of rules would give truck operators welcome extra flexibility, as those with vehicle safety inspection intervals of more than eight weeks would be able to carry out the vehicle unit downloads at the same time as their inspections, rather than having to do so in a separate process. “Discussions with some members suggested that could add up to a lot of time,” he said.

The current 56-day limit was originally introduced by the DfT in the absence of a maximum time limit from Europe when digital tachos were first introduced, added Firth.