Monday 9 December 2019

DVSA rolls out changes to OCRS system

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced changes to its operator compliance risk score (OCRS), the ‘traffic light’ system which it uses to target its enforcement activities at operators deemed less likely to be compliant.

Operators with high OCRS scores, which are based on prior roadworthiness and traffic violations, are more likely to have their vehicles stopped by DVSA.

A banded traffic light-style system of red, amber and green is deployed to categorise operators, with ‘red’ fleets deemed the highest risk, and ‘green’ deemed the most compliant. Fleets for which no recent data is available are categorised as ‘grey’.

But a review of the system, which has taken into account feedback from operators as well as from traffic and vehicle examiners, has resulted in modifications which DVSA claims will help it concentrate its roadside enforcement on the highest-risk operators.

The main change is a new combined score, calculated from the separate scores for roadworthiness and traffic enforcement. This new score, which is obtained by adding the total roadworthiness and traffic points together and then dividing them by the number of events that prompted the points, will now be used by examiners to determine which vehicles will be inspected.

Currently, OCRS points are added to the operator’s score for both a serious defect and a fixed penalty,” said DVSA.

“This will be changed, so that OCRS points will be added to the operator’s score only for the serious roadworthiness defect.”

A further modification is the removal of the so-called ‘straight to red’ trigger, a mechanism which previously put operators straight into the highest-risk red OCRS band following a prosecution or a ‘most serious infringement’ (MSI).

“In the future, we’ll continue to issue operators with OCRS points for most serious offences and prosecutions, but they won’t automatically be placed into the red band when this happens,” said DVSA.

The agency also signalled a more lenient approach to compliance issues attracting only verbal warnings from examiners. Unless a traffic examiner finds additional problems and issues a prohibition or fixed penalty, such incidents will now show up on the OCRS as a clear inspection.

The final change highlighted by DVSA was a reduction in the number of points given for prosecution cases, and so-called ‘band 5 offences’ such as failing to record data on a tachograph, from 500 to 300. Points for other bands remain unchanged.

Phil Stokes, head of intelligence at DVSA, said of the OCRS updates: “DVSA’s first priority is to protect the public from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

“The changes to the OCRS system will allow us to concentrate on targeting operators who pose the greatest risk to road safety. DVSA will take action against any driver or operator who fails to meet the roadworthiness standards and breaks the rules on drivers’ hours.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA), Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) appeared to support the OCRS refinements, judging by statements from their representatives which were included in a DVSA press release announcing the news.

“HGV road safety enforcement is funded almost entirely by fees raised from the commercial vehicle industry,” said James Firth, FTA head of licensing policy and compliance information – “so FTA members who take their road safety responsibilities seriously want to see their money spent effectively, on operators more likely to be non-compliant.

“OCRS helps DVSA focus its resources on the seriously non-compliant.”

RHA policy director Jack Semple added: “We welcome the further refinement of DVSA’s process for identifying HGV operators that are least likely to be complying with the law.

“And we strongly recommend to all hauliers that they ensure they know what their OCRS rating score is.”

Stephen Smith, CPT’s operations director, added: “We welcome the changes to the OCRS system and look forward to an improved system.”

Fleet operators can view their OCRS scores via the gov.uk website. DVSA has also provided detailed, updated guidance on the OCRS system, reflecting the recent changes.

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