Nearly 400 trucks have been found with AdBlue cheating devices between last August and this February, the DVSA has said.
This year has seen a flurry of cases coming before traffic commissioners of operators found to be dodging AdBlue requirements. The latest DVSA figures give a further indication of the scale of the problem.
The DVSA says that the 388 vehicles found with cheating devices came from checks on more than 10,000 trucks in total.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles. We are committed to taking dangerous lorries off Britain’s roads. Stopping emissions fraud is a vital part of that.
“Anyone who flouts the law is putting the quality of our air and the health of vulnerable people, at risk. We won’t hesitate to take action against these drivers, operators and vehicles.”
UK-registered vehicles were bigger offenders than foreign-registered vehicles. There were 4,339 checks on UK-registered vehicles, during which 261 cheat devices were found, as against 5,898 checks on foreign-registered vehicles, with 127 cheat devices found.
There was no particular pattern in manufacturers or age of vehicles. The DVSA said that that it was mostly Euro-4 and 5 vehicles that had the emulator devices although there were some Euro-6.
Enforcement officers have been using both intelligence about particular operators and vehicles, as well as mechanical and visual management system checks in order to catch offenders.
In the longer term the DVSA says it will be looking at ways to test specifically for excess nitrogen oxide or dioxide and other emissions at the roadside.
Among those operators which have had their licences revoked this year for running a vehicle with an AdBlue emulator are Bolton-based Warne Transport, Gloucestershire haulier KSL, and Rapid Response, based in Stoke-on-Trent.
Another haulier, Weston-Super-Mare-based Mactrans was disqualified for 12 months. West of England TC Kevin Rooney said during this case that using the emulators was an important matter of health.
He said: “NoX emissions are considered currently to reduce life expectancy by, on average, five months. Emission controls from heavy duty diesel engines are a central part of the UK’s and Europe’s public health strategy. Circumventing emission controls is a serious matter.”
On other occasions different TC’s have compared the use of an emulator to “a magnet deployed to interrupt accurate tachograph recording”, in the words of North West TC Simon Evans.
TCs have also been impatient with operators which claim ignorance of what has been going on with their emulators, sometimes because they were already fitted when they bought a vehicle. In his written decision on the
Rapid Response public inquiry the West Midlands TC Nick Denton said: “The need for AdBlue should have been self-evident to anyone who understood the business of operating HGVs and who had kept up even a marginal acquaintance with the trade press over the last few years.”