Roadside checks carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) between August and November 2017 found nearly 300 lorries fitted with devices intended to disguise their emission levels.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has now issued guidance highlighting the legal, safety and health implications for those operators tempted to try this dangerous tactic.
Available at www.gov.uk, this highlights: “Under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Regulations 61(7) and 61A(3)) and the Road Traffic Act 1998 (section 42), it is an offence to use on a road a vehicle which has been modified in such a way that it no longer complies with the air pollutant emissions standards it was designed to meet.”
If the illegal work has been done on a van, lorry or bus, it could cost the offender £2500.
A person altering a vehicle (if they knew or believed that the vehicle would be used on the road) could be found guilty of an offence under s.75 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and potentially face unlimited fines.
Pointing out that it is the driver who is responsible for ensuring compliance, the guidance warns that removing a catalytic converter or diesel particulate filter will almost certainly result in a vehicle’s emissions exceeding type approval limits and make the vehicle illegal to drive on the road.
Moving away from the possible financial penalties, the guidance includes the stark warning that a badly modified vehicle has the potential to kill its occupants.
It concludes with some of the warning signs that all might not be well with a vehicle and advises, if in doubt, that a competent professional mechanic should be asked to check.