GARDAÍ have warned that lorry drivers who use magnets to tamper with their digital tachograph readings are posing a major threat to road safety.
The growing trend among some hauliers of attaching magnets to the sender unit of the gearbox is placing lives of many road users in danger, according to gardaí.
They have expressed concern that the magnets are also interfering with the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system, speedometer and speed limiter, as well as the digital tachograph.
“It’s a real road safety issue. The use of magnets has a massive potential to cause a major accident,” said Assistant Garda Commissioner Kevin Ludlow.
Garda Brendan Condon, a public service vehicle inspector based in Thurles, Co Tipperary, said an increasing number of heavy goods vehicles had been detected over recent months with tachographs which had been illegally interfered with through the use of magnets.
“Some drivers are using magnets to disguise the fact that they’ve been driving for longer periods than they are legally allowed,” explained Gda Condon.
Since May 2006, all new goods vehicles as well as mini-coaches and coaches must be fitted with a digital tachograph that records driver hours, as well as the vehicle’s speed.
Under EU legislation, drivers of HGVs and large passenger vehicles must take regular breaks and rest-periods.
Two lorry drivers have already been prosecuted over incidents in which they were found to be using magnets to interfere with their digital tachographs – the first such prosecutions of this kind in the Republic.
Milan Sobol, a Czech driver working for a Northern Ireland haulier firm, Hannon Transport of Lurgan, Co Armagh, was fined a total of €7,000 and disqualified from driving for 12 months by Mallow District Court last month.
In another case, Cork District Court imposed a fine of €2,100 on lorry driver William McDade of Newtownards, Co Down, who also worked for Hannon Transport.
Meanwhile, Gardaí have also appealed to all road users to slow down when travelling over the upcoming June bank holiday weekend.
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