This means that operators can continue to use analogue tachographs in new vehicles delivered after 5 August this year to record compliance with EU drivers’ hours rules, without the risk of prosecution.

Phil Conner, group logistics manager of White Knight Laundry in the UK welcomed the decision.

“With so many changes to the transport industry over the last five years – and many more to follow – this is a decision based upon common sense,” he said.

The decisions have also been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association. Speaking at the IRU Tachograph conference in Tallinn where the German decision was confirmed, policy director James Hookham said: “There is no way that truck operators can be expected to start using digital tachographs on new trucks from 5 August, as is required by the EU regulation. The equipment will simply not be available in time.

“Over the last two years the European Commission has ignored repeated warnings from the FTA that it needed to change the implementation date and it is now too late. …. The only way to remove lorry drivers from risk of prosecution is for national governments to put a moratorium on enforcement of this regulation.” He added that the UK and German decisions would be good news both for their own operators and for international drivers visiting the countries. Similar decisions now needed to be taken in the remaining member states.

In April the European Parliament’s Transport Committee delayed the compulsory fitting of digital tachographs to new vehicles until 5 August 2007, so that a wider choice of units becomes available, vehicle manufacturers can fit them, and lorry operators can create suitable training and management regimes for using the equipment.