A move to cut thousands of hours of unnecessary HGV roadside spot checks could be delayed by years after the DVSA declined to invest in the technology needed to read smart tachograph data.

Under new EU regulations, operators are mandated to ensure all new trucks are fitted with smart tachographs from 15 June this year.

Unlike digital tachographs, smart tachographs can communicate remotely with roadside enforcement officers allowing them to remotely check tachograph data without stopping the vehicle.

This could cut unnecessary roadside checks by thousands of hours. Last year the DVSA performed 89,568 drivers’ hours checks and issued 4,759 prohibitions.

However, the DVSA is declining to develop the technology required to remotely monitor that data, arguing the results do not justify the expense at present.

Under the regulations the agency does not have to roll out the technology until 2034.

The DVSA’s head of enforcement policy, Gordon MacDonald, told MT this week: “Our enforcement staff already have a number of tools to very effectively target tachograph manipulation and drivers’ hours offences.

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“These tools mean it’s not currently effective or proportionate to invest large sums in developing the technology needed to communicate with smart tachographs from the roadside for enforcement purposes.

He added that “the technology will remain under consideration as smart tachographs enter more common usage".

RHA head of licensing and infrastructure policy, Tom Cotton said the DVSA’s decision was “extremely disappointing.”

He added: “Our members have invested in this technology to become compliant with these new regulations, so why is DVSA not prepared to show the same commitment?”

Referring to a series of recent IT problems at DVSA which prevented hauliers from paying their vehicle excise duty and uploading Driver CPC records, Cotton added: “Clearly DVSA needs to invest much more in their technology rather than rely on outdated systems.”

FTA head of licensing and compliance James Firth said: “The regulations allow enforcement agencies another 15 years to install this technology, so no one is in a hurry to do that.

“However, the technology is not entirely wasted as smart tachographs are more secure and its global positioning data and third speed trace will help officers better detect cabotage and driver hours infringements.”