Manipulation front and centre in Austria

Please find the link to the original article published by news.orf.at (in German) here, as well as the English translation below.

40 percent of HGV recording equipment is manipulated


Last year 74 people were killed on Austrian roads in accidents involving HGV’s. According to estimates up to 40 % of recording equipment is manipulated across Europe.
As a result the safety equipment is also impacted. In response the trade union Vida organized a press conference in the ÖAMTC – road safety centre Teesdorf. “When the recording equipment is switched off to circumvent driving and resting times the Tachograph switches to zero. Drivers are not even looking how fast they are going anymore”, says Karl Delfs, Vida section secretary for road transport.


“Piece of cake”


The equipment is “ridiculously easy to manipulate, a simple magnet will do”, according to Senior inspector Horst Meixner of the Burgenland Road Transport Department. “In addition all assistance is also gone”.
The Antilock Braking System (ABS), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Braking System (EBS) are all impacted.
What this means in practice was shown by the ÖAMTC experts on the test track. While a driver would remain in control an HGV going 40 km/h during a full break, a manipulated truck is a different story. The HGV is out of control, breaks out and jack-knifes.


A call on the authorities


The union Vida called on its own authorities to better control compliance with driving and resting times. ”The time has come to tackle this at last”, says Vida president Roman Hebenstreit. The penalties for manipulation have to go up and we need a specialized agency with four bases in Austria that is exclusively focused on HGV checks.
With its event, entitled “A Game with Death on our Roads”, the union wants to raise awareness and incite the responsible into action. The penalties for the black sheep in the sector have to be raised. “In future it should no longer be possible to simply pay fines for HGV manipulation from the petty cash”, says Hebenstreit.
The fines for driving- and resting time legislation breaches start at 75€ and end at 3600€ in case of multiple counts. “This has no deterrent effect”, according to Hebenstreit who calls for criminal law to be applied to HGV manipulations.


74 deaths in HGV accidents

Manipulations prevent driving and resting times from being recorded. Especially in southern European countries driver are being pressured as they are often paid by the km. Manipulation and fatigue can lead to a catastrophic and deadly chain of events causing accidents experts have warned. According to estimates up to 15% of the HGV’s in Austria are manipulated. The frequency with which these vehicles are involved in accidents is unclear. There is not data on this according to the experts.


The figures for accidents involving HGV’s has gone up in Austria in any case. Last year out of 74 deaths, thirteen were HGV passengers, in 2015 there were 66. The number of people injured in accidents involving HGV’s went up with 11.5% to 1.688.While only six percent of all accidents take place on highways and motorways, 28% of those who do involve HGV’s.


In Austria alone, a total of 38.9 billion metric tons of trucks were transported in 2014. One tonne-kilometer is the transport of goods weighing one tonne over one kilometer.
 


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