Original publication: April 2018
Authors: Przemyslaw Borkowski, Monika Bak
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Road enforcement databases: economic feasibility and costs

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This in-depth analysis focuses on the creation of national road enforcement databases collecting data (via 3G/4G/5G networks) from new smart tachographs. The ultimate goal of new smart tachographs is to reduce the number of infringements, improve enforcement of road transport regulations and create a more competitive and honest internal road transport market. The aim of this analysis is to evaluate the economic feasibility and cost of creating these databases, which, if they are interoperable, will enable the national enforcement agencies to effectively enforce the rules of the road transport market and reduce the number of infringements observed at present. The analysis is performed in different options and scenarios regarding different ways of implementation. Analysis is conducted taking into consideration two options: Option 1 – new smart tachographs are equipped in all HGVs and buses already in operation, and Option 2 – new smart tachographs are installed only in newly registered vehicles each year. Those two options are assessed under two scenarios: Scenario 1 (creation of new databases) and Scenario 2 (utilising existing databases in operation within the EU).

The main component of this feasibility assessment is an economic one, including a cost-benefit analysis. However, due to the severe lack of quantitative data for several of the cost and benefit components, this in-depth analysis combines both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Direct and indirect costs & key findings

Costs associated with the introduction of new smart tachographs include direct and indirect categories. Direct costs are those which can be specifically traced to entities involved in the introduction of new smart tachographs while indirect costs are those applied to all other entities which will incur costs because new smart tachographs were introduced into vehicle fleets.

The main costs associated with new smart tachographs are the direct costs of equipping tachographs into vehicles and creating and maintaining database allowing for collecting, storing and exchanging information collected via tachographs between Member States.

Higher initial (investment) costs are associated with Option 1 rather than with Option 2. But this effect diminishes as the share of new vehicles increases over time. The cost difference between Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 favours Scenario 2 but the scale of the cost difference is not as huge as to completely rule out the setting up of a new system. Besides, there are more than strictly financial issues which have to be addressed here, like the willingness of Member States to use existing systems in a new role or like data protection clauses which might still make setting up of a completely new system attractive.

Direct and indirect benefits & key findings

Benefits associated with the introduction of new smart tachographs include direct and indirect benefits. The main direct benefits identified are an increase in market efficiency, improved administration and better enforcement. Other expected direct benefits of the introduction of new smart tachographs result from improved information and cost savings due to fewer infringements, as well as lessened administrative burden on national road administrations in Member States. Indirect benefits could include spill-over effects and other not monetisable effects. Spill-overs are mostly identified in the IT sector with new order placements on equipment and services from the transport industry.

TELOS assessment & key findings

The feasibility assessment is based on the TELOS methodology of project assessment (Hall 2010), which includes five dimensions of feasibility: technical, economic, legal, operational and scheduling. The analytical framework for assessing feasibility is based on the identification of stakeholders responsible for specific aspects of feasibility, i.e. financing, regulation, technology supply and enforcement effectiveness. The following institutions and variables influencing feasibility are taken into further consideration: financiers (EU + MS), regulators (EU + MS), technical suppliers (databases technology suppliers), users (road administrations and enforcement agencies). The economic dimension of feasibility includes quantitative assessment (costs and benefits) while other dimensions (technical, legal, operational and scheduling) are analysed as a supplementary assessment, which is based on a qualitative approach. From a regulatory point of view, the legal, organisational and scheduling feasibility is important, including data protection issues. Feasibility for databases technology suppliers is high with the only identified barrier being a legal issue resulting in organisational and scheduling risks. From the user perspective (road administrations and enforcement agencies), technical and organisational feasibility can be assessed as high, especially due to technical and organisational improvements influencing the reduction of infringements.


The comparison of costs and benefits under both options and both scenarios leads to the following final conclusions:

  • The replacement of existing EU vehicle fleet (using digital tachographs) with a new fleet (using new smart tachographs) as one time operation (Option 1) is rather expensive costing around 6.2 billion EUR.
  • The gradual replacement based on the premise that new smart tachographs are installed only in newly produced vehicles (Option 2) yields a cost of about 343 million EUR yearly.
  • The costs associated with Option 2 will however accumulate year by year. For instance, at the end of year 8 of the gradual replacement process, they will amount to around 2.7 billion EUR.
  • Under the different variants, the estimates regarding database setup costs are as follows:

Option1/Scenario1 – 86.7 million EUR;

Option2/Scenario1 – 59.1 million EUR;

Option1/Scenario2 – 16.2 million EUR; and

Option2/Scenario2 – 10.1 million EUR.

  • The estimate regarding database maintenance costs under considered variants produces yearly costs as follows:

Option1/Scenario1 – 29.8 million EUR ;

Option2/Scenario1 – 20.4 million EUR ;

Option1/Scenario2 – 4.1 million EUR ; and

Option2/Scenario2 – 1 million EUR.

  • The main benefits are associated with improved enforcement of road transport regulation and in consequence with more honest and competitive road haulage market. Due to the use of new smart tachographs, it is estimated that tachograph-related offences should be reduced from the current annual level of almost 27 thousands to only 2.7 thousands, while driver working hours offences should be reduced from more than 36 thousand cases to just about 2 thousand cases.

The feasibility of the introduction of new smart tachographs depends on the actor in the transport market but is generally high with regards to technical feasibility, medium for economic and legal components, and medium-to-low for the scheduling part.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/617-464

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