UK rolls out checks to catch out truck emissions cheats 

Key Points
  • Drivers caught out can be hit with a £300 fine or have their vehicle removed from the road.
  • In 2016, 4.2 million people died as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization.
A lorry in Staffordshire, England.
Loop Images/Bill Allsopp | Passage | Getty Images

Enforcement staff from the U.K.'s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have started to check trucks for emissions cheat devices.

In a statement Monday, the government said that cheat devices cut the cost of operating a vehicle whilst at the same time giving false emissions readings. This, the government added, can mean that excessive emissions are released into the atmosphere.

Emissions cheat devices can range from illegal engine modifications to removing a vehicle's diesel particulate filter or trap. Additionally, drivers can use devices that have been designed to stop an emissions control system from working and remove or bypass the exhaust gas re-circulation valve.

The issue of air pollution is a serious and pressing one. In 2016, 4.2 million people died as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), while 91 percent of the planet's population live in areas where the air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits

If a driver is caught using an emissions cheat device or a faulty emission control system, they will be given 10 days to remove the device or undertake repairs to their system. If they carry on using the device or do not repair the system, they can be hit with a £300 ($385) fine or have their vehicle removed from the road.

A follow up investigation will be undertaken with the operator of the vehicle. The DVSA can, in some circumstances, refer its findings to the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain — licensing and regulating operators for heavy goods vehicles — who can in turn take away a company's license to operate.

"DVSA's priority is protecting the public from unsafe drivers and vehicles," Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA's chief executive, said in a statement.

"A vehicle doesn't have to be falling apart to be unsafe - any driver or operator who uses cheat devices to get around emissions rules is putting the health of the entire nation at risk," he added.