European Union Regulation 2021/1228 has introduced several innovations to the road transport sector. Specifically, starting on August 21, 2023, all newly registered commercial vehicles with a gross weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes must be equipped with second generation smart tachographs. By August 2025, vehicles which are already registered and that carry out international transport will also have to replace the device. They are also required to be replaced in commercial vehicles between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, and will have to comply by July 2026, again in cases where they carry out international transport.
The new digital tachograph, also renamed “smart”, is optimised to record border crossings, the position of the vehicle during loading/unloading and uses Galileo satellite authentication. In addition to simplifying the work of drivers, operators and law enforcement agencies, it introduces new anti-tampering mechanisms and the possibility of updating the software to implement new functions, avoiding the need to replace the device in the event of different technical specifications.
On the set date, however, many of the devices were unavailable due to supply delays that were not due to the road transport sector. In Italy, the count carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport referred to a quantity of trucks and coaches of between 7,000 and 9,000 units. However, the situation was practically the same in other countries. Thus, individual member states of the European Union were forced by circumstances to take action, introducing temporary grace periods with the approval of the European Commission. This situation, as revealed by an analysis by IRI, the World Road Transport Organisation, has resulted in countries applying the grace period differently: some have granted a larger window of time for compliance, in others the grace period is shorter. For example, in Germany the grace period is 24 months, in Austria it lasts until June 1, 2024, and in Sweden until April, 31, 2024, after which the requirement to replace the unit is triggered. In France the suspension lasts four or six months, depending on whether the truck was sold complete or incomplete. In Spain and Italy, on the other hand, a deadline of December 31, 2023 has been set, and until that date, no penalties will be applied.
As often happens in these cases, all these dates must be considered as indicative of a situation that is constantly evolving. Further extensions or suspensions cannot be ruled out at all.