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06/03/2019
Autoattrezzati

Massimo Brunamonti

Heavy duty vehicle inspections privatized: a new feature of the 2019 Budget Law

The news has taken everyone by surprise: the 2019 Budget Law, published in the Official Gazette of December 31, 2018, amends Article 80 of the Highway Code allowing Private Testing Centres to carry out MOT inspections on buses and trucks with the exception of those intended for the transport of dangerous goods or controlled temperature. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport has 30 days to implement the law through appropriate Decrees.

Despite the rather unusual mechanism of including this issue in a National budget law, the news met the widespread approval of the operators, recognizing it as a viable solution for the chronic delays plaguing the sector, with great concerns for road safety.

Currently all trucks and buses are inspected by the Motorization in its Provincial facilities or in specially equipped private structures in the presence of a MOT Officer, in compliance with Law 870 dated December 1, 1986. Unfortunately, whatever the reason, the system currently in place has proved insufficient to cover the needs of the circulating fleet; months of delays between bookings and inspections can hardly be considered acceptable when it comes to industrial vehicles, therefore, in our opinion, the Legislator did well in trying to remedy this ongoing predicament . In addition, although the 30-days deadline highlights what seems to be a praiseworthy solicitude on the part of the Parliament, what the competent Ministry will come up with in terms of solving the problem still remains to be seen.

Actually, there is no need to look very far for a rapid and effective solution: allowing all current private inspection centres, whether they operate within the Law 870 framework or are car/motorbike Inspection Centres, to upgrade to perform heavy duty vehicle inspections exactly as the Provincial Centres are already doing, would guarantee a continuity of the process and avoid possible negative repercussions on road safety.

The current regulatory framework defines the equipment and checks to be performed; the only missing piece, and this applies to both heavy duty vehicles and cars/motorcycles, is defining a process to “create” new "Inspectors" following the introduction of the Ministerial Decree 214 dated 2017. These, in fact, are the ones who, by law, have received the necessary training, obtained suitable qualifications and work in MOT centres on a daily basis supervising or physically carrying out the inspections guaranteeing quality and consistency. Until now, these operations were carried out by provincial MOT officials, on trucks and buses, and by technical inspectors in private car/motorbike MOT centres. Since, as we understand from the new law, provincial officials will no longer be involved in the process, this will only be carried out by a MOT inspectors.

Therefore, also for this reason, the regulatory framework seems to be ready; however one crucial element is missing, training; in this regard, as far as we know, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport has already defined a proposal for training new inspectors and updating the existing MOT inspectors, to be submitted for approval to the State-Regions Conference. This apparently has already happened, but the result, unfortunately, was negative; in fact, the Conference, in a session on December 20, 2018, opted for the postponement of the proposal. We are not aware of the reasons for the deferment and, even worse, there are no indications as to whether and when this matter will be taken up again.

In conclusion, to date we find ourselves with MOT inspectors who are no longer "trainable", according to the “Milleproroghe” Decree dated September 21, 2018 (see article  “Safety/Roadworthiness training courses on stand-by", section Autoattrezzati, Pneurama 6/2018), as well as a lack of qualified inspectors due to lack of training! Since MOT inspectors are crucial figures in guaranteeing proper roadworthiness tests, we can only hope that such deferment will be limited and that a new training program will produce the needed inspectors.

On the other hand, as far as testing facilities and equipment, current laws can easily set things in motion; however, in our opinion, the provision made within the Ministerial Decree 214/2017 must be kept in mind, which, together with the introduction of the MCTNet2 protocol, suggests and in some cases even requires the gradual upgrading of equipment and testing procedures.

This can still be reconciled with the need for prompt measures in the case of heavy duty vehicles; actually, the Ministry of Transport had already moved in this direction well ahead of time; in fact, as early as 2013, the Directorate of the Motorization had already arranged several working groups in order to update two newsletters, 88/95 and 112/96, and adopt a number of technological innovations, that would later be introduced throughout Europe through the Directive 2014/45, well ahead of time. Well, as far as we know, the work has basically been completed on the technical side. Since the Ministerial Decree 214 allows several years for the implementation of such measures, equipment upgrades would be easily manageable on condition that the authorities start issuing the needed decrees on new equipment; thus, the entire supply chain, would have enough time to complete the operations in an orderly manner. We should bear in mind that, once new equipment specifications have been established, the time required to have these approved and installed in MOT centres, may be measured in months or even years.

In conclusion, an apparently intricate picture would still allow intelligent solutions that combine speed and efficiency. The trick, in our opinion, is to launch new heavy duty vehicle Inspection Centres using the paper-based scheme of Law 870, and then gradually update the equipment until they are all ready to be connected to the MCTCnet2 system. This should be the final goal given the undeniable improvements introduced by MCTCNet2 on Inspection tests reliability and quality as well as on possibility of monitoring them guaranteeing transparency and truthfulness.

 

Policy event in Brussels with MEPs and committee members

The European Commission continues to seek solutions for the long-standing problem of access to technical data, which will have to be examined in September 2019 after the spring elections.

The importance of the subject matter prompted EGEA, along with the other members of the Alliance for Freedom in Car Repair (AFCAR), to arrange a “Policy Lunch” held in Brussels on November 20, 2018 (https://www.direct-access.eu/policy-event-2018/), in an attempt to raise awareness among MEPs and members of the Commission. In addition to  AFCAR members (EGEA, FIGIEFA, CECRA, AIRC, ADPA and FIA), several other associations representing the whole sector were also present at the event: CITA (the International Association of Inspection Tests Organisations), ETRMA (the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association), Insurance Europe (the Association of Insurers) and SME United (representing Artisans and Small Businesses). All participants were clearly informed about the need to protect the consumers’ freedom of choice in a "connected car" scenario.

The central speeches were by Eddy Hartog, Head of Department at DG Connect of the European Commission and Wim Van de Camp, Member of the European Parliament and Head of the Transport Commission; both, active in the so-called "third mobility package", stressed the need to ensure, throughout Europe, an "ecosystem" made up of 5G connections, cyber-security and data access, thus keeping the European industry at the forefront of connected mobility. Among other presentations, the EU Commission’s JRC (Joint Research Centre), illustrated the economic impact generated by different data exchange platform and data access solutions.

The event then focused on the results of a study, partly funded by EGEA and carried out by Knobloch&Gröhn, an independent agency, which exposed the "truth behind the Extended Vehicle myth". The ExVe model has been proposed by vehicle manufacturers as a "fair" access protocol to vehicle data, but the study presented convincing details and evidence of how few vehicle manufacturers are actually implementing ExVe and especially how few diagnostic data are actually available through the ExVe protocol. The study also showed how other vehicle manufacturers are adopting on-board platforms (an example is the SDL consortium which includes Ford and Toyota) or making greater use of apps such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to provide, unlike ExVe, access to on-board data for their RMI services.

Following the presentations, a round table focused on the results of the Knobloch&Gröhn's study and possible responses to the key points identified by Eddy Hartog, Wim van de Camp and JRC. The focus of all panel participants was on the need for an urgent and comprehensive legislative framework regulating data access and vehicle functions in order to ensure effective and undistorted competition.

To sum up the situation, Neil Pattemore of EGEA, on behalf of MEP Arndt Kohn, unfortunately absent due to illness, concluded by inviting the legislators to preserve the principles of open and free access to OBD connection with direct, real-time, standardised and free access, mandating that such requirements be guaranteed also in a future standardised, interoperable and safe vehicle platform.

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