German truck inspection procedures. What should drivers expect?

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German truck inspection procedures. What should drivers expect?

The Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) explained in detail how roadside checks are carried out. What should drivers be careful about? What can BAG officers check? The Office recalls the principles enshrined in both EU and national law.

BAG has published an information brochure in which it provides detailed information on roadside checks carried out in Germany. For experienced drivers, most of them will not be new, but it is worth recalling them.

The Office is authorised to stop German and foreign motor vehicles for the transport of goods as well as buses and coaches. The BAG often works in cooperation with other authorities, e.g. the police, customs or the business supervisory authority, as well as with other authorities at the international level.

Call for control

During the mobile control, the driver is called manually to the nearest parking lot. In the case of stationary inspections at rest areas and parking lots on motorways, federal and national roads – the call is made by means of LED signs or as part of stationary inspections at rest areas and parking lots. The selection of vehicles for stationary inspections takes place on the inspection yard.

Vehicles are referred for inspection by means of the following messages:

In addition, the driver can be summoned to an inspection specifically by the vehicle registration number (Kennzeichen).

Non-compliance with the marking is punishable by a fine of EUR 300.

Tasks and powers of inspectors

During the roadside inspection, BAG checks, in accordance with Section 11, Paragraph 2 of the German Road Freight Transport Law (GüKG), in particular, the following:

– whether the driver has all the documents (driving licence, accompanying document, an insurance policy against liability for damage to goods) and work certificates (driver card for the digital tachograph and all handwritten records and printouts of the current day and the previous 28 calendar days),

– the lawful use of the tachograph and the observance of driving and rest periods,

– compliance with certain provisions of the law on stay, work permit and social security,

– observance of the permissible dimensions, axle loads and total weights and the securing of the load and condition of motor vehicles, trailers and vehicle combinations,

– compliance with the regulations governing the transport of dangerous goods,

– the prescribed technical condition of motor vehicles for the carriage of goods (technical inspection en route),

– observance of Sunday and holiday driving bans and summer bans.

If there is any infringement, BAG officers can, depending on the infringement, issue a reminder or a protocol to initiate the infringement procedure. In the case of drivers working for foreign companies, a security deposit is usually necessary. If the driver is not able to pay the full amount immediately, the inspectors may forbid him to continue driving.

Checks on the weekly rest period

On 25 May 2017, a ban on taking 45-hour rest in the cabin of a vehicle entered into force in Germany, bringing German law into line with EU Regulation (EC) No 561/2006.

The operator must ensure that the driver receives a regular weekly rest not in the vehicle, but in a sleeping area, as stated in the brochure.

For spending a regular weekly rest in a truck, both the carrier and the driver are punished. The company may be fined up to €1,500 and the employee – up to €500.

According to the European Commission’s guidelines, tickets for spending the 45-hour break in the cabin can only be issued if the driver is caught in the act. The inspectors are also not entitled to demand a hotel bill or any other document proving that the driver was resting outside the vehicle.

Paul Reich from Translawyers explains how the driver should behave during a BAG inspection:

First of all, it should be stressed that any attempt to avoid the payment of a deposit towards a ticket subsequently imposed is ineffective during the inspection. Of course, when the inspection body wants to impose an unreasonably high deposit or an unreasonable detention, this can be a matter for discussion. However, it should be remembered that each inspection must be assessed individually, preferably by a German lawyer, who can give his opinion by phone to the inspection body concerned,’” the lawyer explains.

An untrained employee is an “expensive” employee, so it is advisable to prepare him for a possible BAG roadside check. Paul Reich provides some practical tips:

Before departure, check that the driver has all the necessary documents and that these documents are in accordance with the facts, including the following:

– driver’s driving license,

– vehicle documentation,

– a record of the driving time and rest periods of the driver,

– cargo list,

– general permits,

– specific permits.

Should reservations be made by the inspectors during the inspection, the driver is legally obliged to provide the following information:

– his personal data,

– the data of the company,

– the data concerning the transported cargo.

The following rules are very important:

– do not give any evidence of the facts,

– do not look for excuses or explanations,

– do not point to another “guilty”,

Do not admit your guilt either verbally or in writing,

– If you receive an administrative fine (Bußgeldbescheid), do not pay,

– Talk in English or pretend you do not speak German,

– If it is possible, you should make your photo documentation on the case, independently of the inspection authority.  

For detailed information on inspections and applicable regulations, please refer to the BAG brochure.


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