Truck & Bus Operation: Vehicle Inspections in Belgium, France, and Romania (November 6-12, 2023)

From November 6th to 12th, 2023, the European Labour Authority (ELA) collaborated with the European Roads Policing Network (ROADPOL) to address irregularities in road transport. In this joint effort, 86 law enforcement officers from various countries conducted inspections on 192 vehicles across Belgium, France, and Romania.

The “Truck and Bus Operation” campaign uncovered numerous violations of road transport regulations, resulting in fines exceeding EUR 50,000. The infractions ranged from serious to minor offenses and were observed in both commercial goods and passenger transport.

In a recent Europe-wide enforcement action on December 14, ROADPOL-affiliated traffic police reported an 18% increase in truck violations.

Scope

The operation involved 17 countries, with 245,500 trucks and 11,261 buses undergoing thorough checks. Alarming results emerged, revealing 38,589 violations during the control week. Among these, 2,556 instances necessitated halting onward journeys until statutory rest periods were observed or vehicle/load conditions were rectified. Freight transport exhibited a complaint rate of 26.23%, an 18% surge from the previous year, while buses had a violation rate of 6.96%, marking a 17% increase from the prior year. This highlights the substantial risks posed by freight traffic to road safety, emphasizing the need for ongoing monitoring.

Offenses

Offenses predominantly related to trucks included exceeding driving time, tachograph settings or tampering, speeding, and technical violations (including overweight and unsecured loads). Approximately 10,368 drivers (9,846 truck drivers and 522 bus drivers) breached Europe-wide social regulations by surpassing legally permitted driving hours without adhering to mandatory breaks. Notably, 307 drivers were caught driving under the influence of alcohol, and 106 under the influence of drugs. Serious technical defects were found in 5,033 instances, with 1,695 trucks under 12 tons, 1,211 trucks over 12 tons, and 113 buses identified as overweight. Inadequate load securing was observed in 1,631 trucks, while proper management of tachographs was neglected 4,834 times. Additionally, 344 cases of digital tachograph manipulations were uncovered during these inspections.

Fraud

Fraud involving tinkering with tachograph settings is becoming increasingly common in the transportation industry due to competitive pressures. While financially profitable, this fraud poses a serious threat to road safety due to driver fatigue, leading to accidents. Other violations, such as speeding, unsecured loads, and vehicle defects, often result in serious collisions, underscoring the necessity for stringent controls on freight traffic. Ms. Peleskova emphasizes that inspections of truck and passenger transport are crucial for improving road safety.

Conclusions

A week of ELA activities in road transport revealed violations related to delivery pressure, highlighting risky behavior that risks road safety. Joint inspection teams proved effective in addressing cross-border irregularities and encountering drivers from different countries. ELA and its partners are dedicated to complying with European road transport regulations, supporting authorities, and safeguarding the rights of drivers and employers. With ongoing inspections and cross-border cooperation, the initiative aims to sustain itself in 2024, enhancing fair working conditions and road safety.

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