We meet Sven Acker on a Monday afternoon just up the road from Lake Garda. He has been driving his regular Trochtelfingen – Italy – Trochtelfingen route for eleven years, and crossing the border at the Brenner Pass is routine for him. Since February 2022, he has had to make a brief stop after crossing the border – not to enjoy a proper Italian espresso, but for EU Mobility Package I. This stipulates that drivers must record their border crossings in the tachograph the moment they cross. To prevent this requirement from impeding his onward journey, he opted for software upgrade 4.0e for his smart tachograph early on. He tells us how it’s going.
Mr Acker, how did you find out about the new documentation requirements at the border at the beginning of 2022?
I think it was from a long-distance lorry driver magazine or colleagues on social media. As drivers, we’re out on the road a lot more than we are at the depot, and there’s a very active driver community on Facebook. Our manager informs us of all the important new developments that we need to be aware of in our work as well, of course.
Is that how you first came across the software upgrade for your DTCO 4.0?
It was an acquaintance of mine who drew my attention to it. He knew that I had a new vehicle with the digital DTCO installed. He made the contact for me and the upgrade was complete in around 20 minutes.
And since the installation, do you think that the DTCO 4.0e smart tachograph has been of benefit to you at the border?
Certainly, yes. The Mobility Package means that we all have to pull in to the first parking place after the border and select the new country in the tachograph. The upgrade has reduced the time it takes to do this by around half. I just need to confirm the country that the tachograph suggests and I can proceed on my journey.
How do your colleagues on the road see things? Is documentation of border crossings working well six months after it first came in?
I think that it varies. Many of my colleagues have got used to it because it’s something they have to do every day. Others are a bit less willing. I’ve heard though that in some countries, in Spain for example, the authorities do check that you have done it. If you get caught not doing it, it can be expensive – for the driver and the manager as well.
How are things at the border now? Won’t this new requirement mean that there are more traffic jams than there already are?
It shouldn’t. You don’t actually need to stop immediately after the border, only at the next parking place, and then you can switch countries easily. There’s a major construction site at the Brenner Pass right now, so there are always unnecessary traffic jams when drivers just pull onto the hard shoulder.
Does the software upgrade have any other benefits for you as a driver?
Yes. The upgrade also displays my working hours and gives me a warning if I exceed them. That’s a very useful feature. I’ve also noticed how much faster it is, especially reading in the driver card before setting off in the morning.
Would you recommend that your colleagues on the road install the software upgrade for the DTCO 4.0?
I think that the upgrade makes a lot of sense. The new features save a considerable amount of time, which is something that we never have enough of. And in the end, it also helps us to keep to the rules when we’re driving, even under time pressure.