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Understanding The New Emissions Spot Checks

If you listen to the news at all, you will know that pollution is still a hot button topic, hidden inside all of the politics and bad news flying around at the moment. Vehicle emissions have been closely tied to air pollution and the production of greenhouse gasses for many years now and efforts have been made to reduce their production and create more eco-friendly cars. And while all of this has helped hugely, there are still those who are ignoring official emissions guidelines, particularly in the HGV world. So this year, the DVSA is putting measures in place to catch out HGV drivers utilising ‘emissions cheat devices’ to get around the rules.


What Are The Roadside Checks For?

Over the last few years, England’s air quality has significantly improved. Thanks to investment in public transport, reduction of vehicles on the road with low emissions zones and the development of electric vehicles, our air is finally below dangerous levels of all but 2 harmful toxins. These are nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, with London air found to be particularly high in these toxins. Air quality is one of the more important environmental issues being tackled at the moment, and with over 9,400 deaths a year attributed to air-quality related illnesses in London alone, it’s not surprising that we are trying to bring it down further. Studies have shown that cars and HGVs on the roads are responsible for producing up to 50% of toxic nitrogen dioxide. Environmental standards and the DVSA have teamed up to combat the problem. These roadside checks are part of a plan to catch motorists who are ignoring emissions standards rules or who are driving excessively pollutant vehicles and getting away with it by using emissions cheat devices.


What Are Emissions Cheat Devices?

Given that emissions regulations are in place to protect the greater public, it may seem strange that any driver would take measures to avoid lowering their emissions. But for HGVs, lowering emissions is an expensive business and some drivers would rather install these chat devices that pay the outlay to get the underlying issue sorted. This was found particularly prevalent in HGVs that frequented London where low emissions zones resulted in paying daily fees. HGV emissions cheat devices found by DVSA officials and their counterparts in Europe included:


  • Devices designed to stop inbuilt emissions control systems from working properly.


  • Removal of the diesel particulate filter or trap.


  • Using a cheap, fake exhaust reduction device or diesel exhaust fluid to lower emissions reports.


  • Installing illegal engine modifications, which result in excessive emissions (rather than using a device to cut them).


  • Removing or bypassing the exhaust gas recirculation valve.


Given that the results of the DVSA’s research were concerning enough to put measures in place to counteract these devices, all HGV drivers should expect to be pulled over for a roadside spot check fairly soon.


What Will Happen?

From August 2017, DVSA officials will be at liberty to pull over any HGV on the road and perform a roadside check for emissions. These checks will apply to all HGVs, lorries, coaches and large vehicles on UK roads. The DVSA have stated that they will be increasingly targeting repeat offenders to the emissions system. During these checks, if your vehicle is found to have been tampered with, you will be given a period of 10 days to resolve the problem and get the device removed – along with making any emissions changes required. If, after 10 days, you have taken no action or the problem persists, the DVSA will issue you with a hefty fine and stop the vehicle from being used on the road. If you are found to be a repeat offender, the DVSA can insist that the vehicle be removed from the road permanently by law enforcement.


The important thing to pay attention to here is that it is you, the driver, who is penalised if your vehicle is found to be tampered with, not the company who owns the vehicle, or the one you work for. As the driver of the vehicle, it is your job to do thorough checks before you start your journey to ensure your vehicle is safe and meets all road regulations. So from August 1st, make sure you are taking the time to check your vehicle for emissions cheat devices – or risk facing the consequences and potentially losing your ability to drive HGVs professionally. For more information, or to learn how to recognise emissions cheat devices, get in touch with us today.

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