DVSA to take tougher stance on fuel spills

    The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is “taking a more robust approach to vehicles with defective fuel systems,” which means it will now always issue an immediate prohibition.

    The change, which came into effect on 1 September, is a direct response to a review ordered by the Department for Transport (DfT).

    Says the DVSA: “It’s not acceptable to contaminate the road surface or to drive a vehicle in such poor condition that a fuel spill is likely.”

    It follows a Highways Agency (HA) report on the effect of diesel fuel spills. This led to the DfT telling the DVSA to review the sanctions it issues at the roadside for vehicles with defective fuel tanks and systems.

    Last year the HA reported 255 fuel spills resulting in lane closures and significant delays. As well as the risks to road safety – such as creating skid hazards – it also takes on average five hours to clear a fuel spill.

    In the last year DVSA examiners found 2,390 fuel system defects and issued 1,500 prohibitions to vehicles with defective fuel systems.

    Now, an immediate prohibition will be given for:

    • Missing or ineffective fuel cap or sealing arrangement
    • Fuel leak caused by a defect, contaminating the road surface
    • Insecure fuel tank where detachment is imminent.

    It is also possible that the prohibition could be ‘S’ marked – indicating a “significant failure” of the maintenance system.

    Where the DVSA vehicle examiner determines that the driver is solely or partly responsible for the offence – such as failure to conduct a daily walk-round check, or during driving of the vehicle – a 50 fixed penalty notice (FPN) will be issued to the driver. For cases involving a petrol fuel leak, or insecure fuel tank, the FPN is 100.

    The issue of a FPN will also affect the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS). If a driver accrues more than three FPNs (for any offences) it will also trigger a DVSA investigation of the operator’s systems, with the report being sent to the Traffic Commissioner (TC).

    To reflect the new policy, the DVSA has updated its Categorisation of Defects and Enforcement Sanctions Policy.

    Categorisation of Defects

    Enforcement Sanctions Policy