Late last year, the Government confirmed that DVSA traffic examiners would soon wield far greater powers to issue on the spot fines for a range of commercial vehicle offences. These include exceeding driver's hours, or manipulating tachograph records. The old system meant that traffic examiners could only fine drivers for offences committed that day, or ongoing offences such as altering tachograph records.

That system will change as of the 5 March 2018. Traffic examiners will be able to issue on the spot fines to drivers for a maximum of 5 offences committed in the last 28 days. This means a single check on a driver who has not been abiding by the rules could result in a maximum £1,500 fine.

For drivers from outside Great Britain the rules are even more strict; they will have to pay their fines immediately and their vehicle will be immobilized until they do so.

In addition, the DVSA have also announced they will be taking more rigorous action against drivers taking their rest breaks at inappropriate locations; such as lay-bys and in residential areas.

One particular note of warning - initial "on the spot" offences may not stop there. It may result in increased regulatory attention, or a DVSA audit of systems and compliance on a larger scale. This is especially the case where a number of offences occur over a short time period. Fundamentally, the DVSA will take a risk based approach, and may feel forced to investigate more deeply where they see a course of bad behavior developing.

All in all, for those in the commercial driving sector it will become even more important to abide by the rules if they wish to avoid increased financial penalties and scrutiny. Only time will tell how effectively these rule changes are enforced, and whether the DVSA's actions will make an impact on the number of drivers that commit such offences.