RAC calls for online vehicle emission checker

Motoring organisation urges DVLA to develop service before cities introduce low emission zones

One of Britain’s largest motoring organisations has urged the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to urgently develop a website for checking on a vehicle’s Euro emission standard.

Traffic jamThe RAC said it should be possible for motorists to enter a vehicle registration number to learn which emissions category it comes under.

It said that as the DVLA already holds a detailed log of every registered vehicle in the UK it is ideally placed to provide an online look-up at GOV.UK as part of its vehicle information database. This would make it possible to provide a service well ahead of the anticipated roll out of clean air zones, giving motorists time to check if their vehicle would be subject to any exclusions or charges in specific areas.

similar service has already been developed by Transport for London to manage the Low Emisson Zone for commercial vehicles in the city.

Natural place

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “As councils across the UK develop plans to tackle harmful emissions on a local level, we expect millions of drivers will want to find out the Euro emissions category of their vehicle – and the natural place to look will be on the official GOV.UK website.

“We’ve already seen a big increase in traffic to our own website from people trying to find this information and to understand more about what the Euro emissions standard actually means.

“It is simply unacceptable that there is currently no easy-to-use or conclusive online look-up system available – this will no doubt leave drivers confused about whether or not they are likely to be impacted by the introduction of clean air zones. And this is all the more surprising given that the Government stated in its detailed air quality plan published in July that ‘information enabling customers to understand quickly and easily whether or not a given vehicle would potentially incur a charge is particularly important’.”

The Government has told urban authorities in areas breaching legal air pollution limits that they have to publish plans for reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions by the end of March 2018. Depending on how each local authority seeks to reduce emissions, drivers may in the future face either restrictions or charges – based on the Euro emissions category of their vehicle which dictates, under laboratory conditions, maximum permitted tailpipe emissions.

Recent research conducted by the RAC found that 38% of 2,200 motorists had not heard of the Euro emissions classification system, and 64% of those that have either did not know or were unsure of how their vehicle would be categorised. 49% said they would expect to find out the emissions category of their vehicle on the main GOV.UK website, while 28% thought they would find it on a vehicle manufacturer’s own website.

Transparency factor

Dennis added: “Much greater transparency of Euro emissions information will also help inform drivers as to how polluting their car might be, and assist them when it comes to choosing their next one – as buyers start to select models with particular Euro categories to be more confident of avoiding potential future charges or restrictions.

“It may even act as a catalyst to encourage drivers to purchase an ultra-low emission vehicle.”

Currently the only source of detailed vehicle emissions information covering different manufacturers is the Vehicle Certification Agency’s ‘car fuel data’ website, which requires several pieces of information and urges the user to contact the manufacturer.

The British vehicle history checking company HPI has launched an emissions checker, but the RAC said it did not appear to be comprehensive.

Image by Glyn Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons