Guido Wolfs Truck Pictures

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A bit About the Tachograph and the European HOS ( Hours of Service ).

In Europe trucks have a tachograph for the check up of the hours of service. A tachograph is an instrument wich is registrating the on duty hours, the off duty hours, speed, and the kilometers in distance you've been driving. This all is registrated on the tachograph-chart. One chart is for 24 hours. Inside the tachograph there's a clock and a mechanism who makes the chart turn it's 24 hours.



Before starting our duty we first fill in the chart like at picture 1. Thereafter the chart goes into the tachograph like on picture 4. At picture 3 you see the tachograph is having 2 buttons. Button is for the driver and button 2 is for the codriver. You can put 2 charts into a tachograph but, if you change driver, ( in case of 2 drivers on one trip ) you need to change the chart too, because position 2 is not writing the driving time! That's only possible at position 1.

( Picture 3 ) The hammersign means worktime other than driving. The square-sign means waitingtime. If you are waited to get loaded for example. And the bedsign means off duty time. Only when youre off duty at your homeyard, it is allowed to take the chart out of the tachograph! As long as youre sleeping in your truck there must be a chart in the tachograph for 24 hours! This tachograph changes automatticly into driving-time if you start to role.

Now something about the chart ( picture 2) From the top to the center you can see the following registrations: At the top you see the time registration. It was a quiet, hot Friday for me as I started to drive at 9:20 after staying overnight at the Joost truckstop in Hazeldonk. At 10:00 I arrived in Dongen to load. Out at 10:55 am again, and unloading in Zoeterwoude at the Heineken brewerie at 12:10. Then out at 12:30, and a short break of 20 minutes thereafter. Loading in Schiedam between 14:00 and 15:10. Unloading in Beek en Donk between 16:50 and 17:20 and finally loading in Maastricht between 18:40 and 19:10. At 19:20 I was at the Reijnders homeyard in Meerssen. Underneath the first timeregistration you see the speed registration. Due to a speedlimiter the maximum speed for the most European trucks is around 90 km/h ( 80 km/h officially allowed in most European countries ). As you can see, that was my maximum speed that day. Underneath the speed registration you see the way of duty registration. Here you can see what I did at what time of the day. Now you can see that I'm braking the law because apart from the drivingtime, all the other periods are off duty time at this chart. Usualy every kind of work is specificly registrated. With braking the law in this case, I don't need a 45 minutes brake after four and a half hours on duty. After all, opening and closing the curtains is all that I do! And the police usually don't ask for a specification. Underneath the workregistration you see a bunch of up and down going lines. Each up or down line is 5 km driving.

The European HOS. The European HOS is different than the American or Canadian ones. I don't want to go into some details because there are quite some "…but…." in some regulations. It's to complicated to explain this all, so I only explain the main ones. Here we go: On duty: Maximum 15 hours. In those 15 hours you may have 9 driving hours and 6 hours working time other than driving. Also the needed rest time is in these 15 hours. In these 9 driving hours you must have at least 45 minutes of duty, so resting. Twice a week 10 hours of driving time is allowed. In that case you must have a maximum off duty period of 90 minutes. You cannot take these 90 minutes whenever you want. Four and a half hours and at least 45 minutes rest, and than again four and half hour and at least 45 minutes rest. Thereafter you can go for one hour and your day is over. Off duty: In Europe we don't talk about off duty and off duty spending in a sleeper berth like in North America. You can spend your off duty time however you like, although the law assumes you get some sleep. Your off duty time must be at least 11 hours. Three days a week you can have a period of 9 hours. You may also have 12 hours rest a day split in one period of 3 hours and one of 9 hours. Weekly you must have one period of 45 hours rest. However, it is allowed to reduce this period in 24 hours, but this must be compensated in the next period. All this can be done in the weekend for example. As team drivers there must be a rest period in a not moving vehicle of 9 hours after 30 hours on duty together!

In some European countries (France, Germany, and some more) it is strictly forbidden to drive a truck started at 0:00 Sunday morning till 22:00 Sunday evening. Exceptions only for reefer transport and companies with an (very expensive) authorisation. So that is why there are hardly any trucks on most European highways at Sunday. Important detail: European truckers are almost all paid per hour, instead of paid by kilometre/mile!!!!

Braking the HOS in Europe can be seen as committing a crime, and will cost you a lot of Euro's. Although it is not allowed, in some European countries the Police write down a penalty for speeding as proved on the chart. So it can happen you become a penalty in France for speeding, for example, in the Netherlands.

The chart is an official document and can be used as evidence in court in case of an accident with fatal injuries.

All the pictures of the tachograph are taken back in 2004 in my truck, a Scania 4 series. Scania had with the 4 series the last old type of tachograph in their trucks. With the new P, R, and T series, Scania was the last European truck mark who introduced the new digital tachograph. This tachograph is much different as the old analogue one. It doesn't work without a small personal "driver card", which you have to stick in the tachograph. On this card, size credit card, every single movement will be registrated. This new tachograph is introduced because the old type was very easy to practise fraud with. The new tachograph is registrating every single move you make, so the police can give a penalty in case of braking your off duty period, or practising fraud. It depends on what kind of fraud you commit, but these penalties will cost you in most cases more than 10.000 Euro. All this must be paid by you as a truckdriver, because you are the one who commit the crime, and not your boss!!!!!! Even if your boss ordered you to do, you still can refuse!! That's how the law is thinking about it!

I hope with this short article that I make some things clear about the tachograph for all the truckers in the world, who haven't got a tachograph. As far as I know Europe is the only continent where a tachograph in trucks is absolutey required.

I'd like to thank Remko van Rhijn for explaining the Canadian and the American Hours of Service via his weblog on his website. Thanks to him I was able to compare all these "HOS's" with eachother. Remko van Rhijn is a Dutch journalist/trucker who's driving in Canada right now for McConnell Transport in Woodstock, New Brunswick, so he's able to compare the European and the North American way of trucking for the Dutch trucker magazine Truckstar. For those who are interested in his website, here is the web address:

This site is only in Dutch !!!!!!!

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