The weight of 3,500kg is vitally important as vehicles with a permitted Gross Train Mass in excess of 3,500kg are now required by European Law to obey EU Drivers Hours and Tachograph Law if the vehicle is used in connection with “hire and reward”(business use).
This will initially involve the fitting of a tachograph unit to record data about the activities of the driver and vehicle. Now for those who are not in the know, Gross Train Mass is defined as the weight of the vehicle, any trailer towed behind it and the weight imposed on the two.
As stated businesses need to be aware that in order to comply with the law they must have a fitted tachograph unit to some of their vehicles, and obey the driver hours regulations.
The problem is that neither the vehicle manufacturers, nor the tachograph manufacturers, have a solution for smaller vehicles.
By smaller vehicles we are referring to 4×4’s, pick-up trucks and cars: the work horses of business.
So how did this piece of legislation come about? Until recently all passenger cars had a Gross Train Mass of below 3,490kg and hence fell below the threshold of 3,500kg.
With the advances in technology the car manufacturers have been able to increase the capacities of the cars, and in some cases far in excess of 3,500kg. They have done this to allow people to tow larger caravans more safely, which is a definite bonus.
Note that the private use of these vehicles to tow a caravan will not require a tachograph to be fitted.
The problem arises with the purchase of these newer vehicles by the fleet industry. These vehicles are being used for business, and if a tow bar is attached to allow the transportation of goods in trailers by the business, then the vehicle falls within the regulations.
The big issue is that the car manufacturers have yet to produce a tachograph unit that is able to be fitted to their vehicles.
And herein is the crux of the matter - it is not illegal to sell cars without a tachograph as the manufacturers do not necessarily know the use the vehicle will be put to.
However, if you are using the vehicle, and you do not comply with the law, you will potentially be looking at prosecution.
There is some good news though; Fleet Risk Consultants is discussing tachographs being fitted with a number of manufacturers on its clients’ behalf.
If you tow trailers in connection with your business you should be raising the issue with your vehicle supplier.
So who does this piece of legislation apply to? Here are some vehicle types that have recently been included and will require tacographs:
- Almost all the panel vans
- 4 x 4 pick-ups
- Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV)
If you tow for business using any of the above, you need a tachograph.
Your individual use of vehicles and trailers may fall outside the regulations as there are a few exceptions available.