More than 100 lorry operators caught with emissions cheat devices

More than 100 lorry operators have been caught with emissions-cheating devices fitted to their vehicles in a four-month operation conducted by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

DVSA examiners found 293 lorries fitted with emissions cheat devices at roadside checks of lorries at five locations across the UK between August and November 2017, from a total of 3,735 trucks inspected.

Drivers and businesses are using emulators to stop a lorry’s selective catalytic reduction (SRC) system from functioning, in an effort to cut the cost of fuel and AdBlue running. Cheat devices cut the cost of operating but give false emissions readings, which result in the release of excessive and illegal levels of emissions into the air.

When caught, the drivers and operators were given ten days to fix the emissions system or face a £300 fine and have the vehicle taken off the road. Information was not provided as to whether any operators failed to comply.

Lorries registered in Northern Ireland had a significantly higher rate of cheating than the rest of Britain, with foreign-registered vehicles best of all. More than one in five NI-registered trucks was found with emissions-cheating devices, compared to less than one in ten for other British trucks and less than one in 20 for foreign trucks.

Following the roadside checks, DVSA examiners are now inspecting more than 100 operators’ vehicle fleets for emission cheat devices. Some of the companies being inspected operate up to 80 vehicles. The findings will be passed onto the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain, who have the power to take away operator licences.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) Commercial Vehicle division has raised its concerns about the discovery, and suggested that the Department for Transport needed to do more to combat the problem.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA truck and van division, said: “The introduction of roadside checks is not a sufficient measure to effectively end the use of SCR cheat devices when they are easily available to buy online.

“Additionally, there is a ten-day window to remove the device before a penalty which seems very lenient. This is especially worrying as threats to refer operators to the Traffic Commissions to consider their illegal activities, and possibly remove their operator’s licenses, are only effective against UK registered operators.”

New Euro-VI heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) have the cleanest engines ever and vastly reduced real-world NOx emissions, but the continued use of cheat devices undermines this progress and the industry’s efforts to reduce HGV emissions. It is imperative for UK air quality that the government takes every measure possible to ensure HGV emissions are as low as possible.

Robinson concludes, “The NFDA is hopeful that DfT will continue to support our efforts to tackle these cheat devices, not only by stepping up roadside inspections and penalties, but most crucially banning the sale, installation and the use of all SCR cheat devices.”

Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites, The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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