Working conditions of professional drivers must be improved and road safety must be increased, emphasised some MEPs just before the vote on the so-called Recording Equipment Regulation in the European Parliament. However, these objectives were probably already forgotten during the vote: a majority of EU representatives voted in favour of a passage, where recording equipment automatically defines activities such as loading and unloading of vehicles and administrative works as rest period or break. According to this only driving time is considered working time. One thing is clear: this will certainly not improve working conditions; on the contrary: many employees from the industry feel that this regulation is treating their work with contempt.
During the debate on the Recording Equipment Regulation many MEPs just made pretty speeches. Yes, it was important that working conditions in road transport would be improved; wage and social dumping had to be avoided - it could not be that employees would only receive a third of the wage, which is normally paid to staff in the region. Just recently there had been another bus accident; it has been assumed that the driver had been overtired, et cetera. Only MEP Eva Lichtenberger of the Greens stated that of course also activities outside the vehicle had to be considered as working period.

However, a rather late understanding; after all, the European Greens as well as Social Democrats, People’s Party, Liberals and Conservatives had already jointly prepared an Amendment in the Transport Committee, where recording equipment only regards driving times as working periods and anything else as a break. The Social Democrats too only noticed their mistake during the plenary vote - even though the MEP in charge, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău is a Social Democrat herself - and could not find a majority to reject this text passage in the plenum.

MEPs also appeared to be trusting in respect of the regulations on installing recording equipment. According to the MEPs it would be alright if, instead of a certified workshop, the transport undertaking itself installed and calibrated the recording equipment. The MEPs seem to be oblivious to any risk of abuse.

However, the plenum showed a degree of generosity with regard to the liability issue: according to this, drivers do not share the transport undertaking’s liability concerning infringements against the Regulation.

From an Austrian point of view, only the SPÖ delegation drew the consequences from the voting result, which was disappointing from the point of view of professional drivers, and voted against the overall report. ÖVP, Greens as well as the List Hans-Peter Martin and BZÖ voted in favour of the text, FPÖ abstained. However, overall only 67 MEPs voted against the report, whilst 488 representatives voted in favour.

Following the vote in the European Parliament one can only hope that at least the Council will show some understanding for professional drivers and “do the right thing” during the negotiations on the Recording Equipment Regulation, i.e. rate activities outside the driver cabin as working period.