EU Commercial Drivers Won’t Be Microchipped

     (CN) – The Council of the European Union has ditched plans to electronically link commercial driver licenses with vehicle monitors, noting that most delegates doubt the benefits will justify the costs.
     The EU Commission proposed a plan last year that would merge commercial driver licenses and driver logbooks – called tachographs – by inserting a microchip with tachograph functionalities into the licenses. Tachographs measure speed, distances traveled, and rest times. The trucking industry uses them to improve driver safety and comply with highway laws.
     A U.S. federal appeals court in struck down a similar attempt at electronic monitoring of truckers in 2011, noting concerns that the device could be used to harass drivers.
     The EU Council said it will wait for the commission to do more cost analyses before deciding whether to merge tachograph driver cards with driver licenses in the future. For now, lawmakers adopted rules to begin monitoring commercial vehicles using GPS technology.
     Legislators hope that remote communication from the GPS service will allow for early detection of possible infractions, allowing law enforcement to better target roadside checkpoints. However, the council noted member states are not required to outfit authorities for the new technology.
     Unlike the now-defunct U.S. regulation, the European proposal contains language to safeguard personal information. Recording of vehicle positions will be limited to the starting and ending place of the work day, and drivers must give explicit consent to make their information available.
     Short-haul truckers will enjoy wider exemptions. The council expanded the exemption from a 30-mile radius to 60 miles. Member states can use the exemption to help small- and medium-sized business, the council said.
     Members of European Parliament will have to ratify the council’s decision in early July. Lawmakers expect the new regulations to take effect in 2017 or 2018, after technical specifications of the electronic tachograph are established.

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