The DVSA (previously VOSA) are responsible for carrying out roadside examinations of vehicles similar to an MOT test. The main targets are commercial vehicles but examinations of cars are not unheard of where the vehicle is visibly poor or for example is smoking. This has gone on for a number of years, what is new is that the DVSA examiners historically relied on police officers to stop the vehicles for examination. More recently VOSA vehicle examiners have had their own vehicles with lights and signage and a power to stop vehicles, the idea being to release police officers to more conventional police work.
The new campaign is a relief to many motorcyclists and may be as a result of a number of campaigns by the motorcycle press. The problem is that unlike petrol which evaporates very quickly at normal UK temperatures if spilt, diesel or diesel oil as it used to be known is just that, an oil, when spilt it stays on the road and can be difficult to see against tarmac. What is worse is that the spillages often take place on bends and roundabouts, this is because the main cause of spills is overfilled fuel tanks and badly fitted fuel caps. After filling up the fuel sloshes around and out of the tank at the first bend.
There are now two good reasons not to overfill and to ensure your fuel cap fits properly, one is that fuel on the ground does not make your vehicle travel very far and therefore ruins your fuel economy, and two the DVSA have indicated that they are toughening up their stance on this (it is an MOT failure point) and your vehicle could receive a roadside prohibition from moving in severe cases. Apart from the potential for a prohibition what is the offence and penalty? It is a construction and use offence of using a vehicle in a dangerous condition, three penalty points and a fine of £100 on a fixed penalty ticket or more if it goes to court.
As a motorcyclist myself, I believe that there have been fewer spills recently, I suspect this is more to do with commercial vehicle operators having better caps to prevent diesel thefts, still a big problem in the industry as a tank full of diesel on a long distance vehicle can easily exceed £1,000 in value. Frankly I don’t care what brings on the changes if it stops someone, particularly me, taking a trip down the road on the backside, it is progress.