Multilateral Exchange Bristol

A multilateral exchange among the control services was held from September 19th through 24th in Bristol, United Kingdom. The centrepiece of the exchange was digital tachograph fraud and the inspection of vehicles for technical shortcomings and load problems.

Host of the exchange was VOSA, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. The week was characterised by a perfect mix of theory and practice. Classes at Berkeley House, the headquarters of VOSA, alternated with road checks on location in Tormarton and Coldra (Newport). The checked drivers were often surprised to find themselves being addressed in their own language. A visit was also paid to VOSA´s own vehicle approval test station in Avonmouth, where the exchange participants learned how VOSA verifies the technical condition of trucks. It was striking to see how widely the amount of the fines for vehicle defects can vary from country to country.

The lessons were given by VOSA inspectors. After a general presentation of VOSA and its tasks, one studied in detail the requirements which are imposed on British drivers. One also dealt with the Operator Compliance Risk Score system, which enables inspectors, on the basis of a colour indication (red, amber or green) to determine whether a driver constitutes a risk for traffic safety and therefore runs a greater chance of being controlled. After all, with tens of thousands of vehicles on the road every day, it is impossible to inspect everyone, and it is therefore a matter of inspecting those trucks in which there is the greatest likelihood that something is not OK. A similar system was developed at Euro Contrôle Route and distributed amongst the Member States with the support of the European Commission.

Naturally, great attention was also devoted to the commission of fraud with and manipulation of digital tachographs. The failure to respect driving and rest times still appears to be so profitable that carriers are constantly coming up with ever more ingenious ways to sabotage the functioning of the tachograph. The exchange of experiences and knowledge transfer between inspectors are fundamental tools for countering such practices, and this also applies for technical shortcomings and loading. One still finds that certain things that are tolerated or authorised in one country are strictly prohibited in another. It was very interesting to note that each country nevertheless sets its own emphases when checking vehicles. Along with the presentations by VOSA, there was also a presentation of the German federal office for goods transport by road, the BaG, and about ECR.

Thanks to the impeccable organisation, the participants could not only expand their knowledge concerning the manipulation of digital tachographs and technical checks, but everyone also had a wealth of occasions to become better acquainted with their colleagues from other ECR member states. Along with the very effective formal knowledge transfer, the strength of multinational exchanges like this resides no less in the establishment of contacts between colleagues from other countries. When freight transport doesn´t stop at the national borders, inspections can´t stop there either. Only by working together intensively and learning from one another can we arrive at a safer and more competitive road transport. And ECR offers an ideal opportunity for this.

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