VOSA Listens To FTA Freight Councils To Improve OCRS Accuracy


Changes to the Operator Compliance Risk Score system will help the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) to better target non-compliant operators based on their compliance history and are to be welcomed, says the Freight Transport Association. FTA discussed the constraints and limitations of OCRS in its Freight Councils last summer and many of its recommendations are incorporated in the changes announced by VOSA today.

James Hookham, FTA’s MD of Policy and Communications, said:

“OCRS is one of the best innovations VOSA has come up with as a way of letting operators know where they stand in VOSA’s eyes and we are broadly supportive of these changes. Top of the list of recommendations from our members was the abandonment of predictive scores, we also asked for older infringements to carry less weight than those picked up only a month earlier, and for colour boundaries to be fixed at a set number of points so operators will no longer cry: “I’ve turned Red and I have no idea why.

“VOSA has clearly listened to FTA members and should be congratulated for listening to industry.”

FTA members recognised OCRS as one of the single biggest drivers in improving fleet compliance in recent years, helping VOSA target its resources at non-compliant operators. VOSA shared the proposals with FTA’s Road Freight Council in January and members were able to give clear feedback on the draft proposals. VOSA has also promised to raise the understanding of OCRS outside the transport industry to help deter its inappropriate use as a performance indicator in contract letting, especially by local authorities and other public sector bodies.

However, FTA is concerned at the possible consequences of the new “Straight to Red” offences. This would occur when any of a specified list of the most serious offences are detected at a roadside inspection resulting in the entire fleet coming under intense scrutiny for a minimum six-month period. Whilst supporting the principle FTA has called on VOSA to provide means whereby an operator can return rapidly to green where the offence can be shown to be a ‘one-off’ incident rather than a systemic failure. The six-month provision is supposed to allow time for VOSA to make an on-site visit to the operator to investigate the offence.

“Putting operators on red for six months will cause massive disruption and delay that may well be deserved but I can’t believe it will take this long for VOSA to pay the operator a visit to see what really going on” said James Hookham. “If Straight to Red offences are introduced VOSA will need to revise its enforcement priorities or allow operators to demonstrate that the infringement was one-off and go ’Straight (back) to Green”.

Hookham concluded:

“OCRS was in need of refinement to help improve its accuracy as an indicator of compliance risk; VOSA has indicated that this is not the end of that refinement process and FTA members will be closely involved in that work as it continues.”

The key changes include:

  • Abandonment of Predictive Scores
  • 3 year reference period with diminishing weighting on older years
  • Complete revision of points allocation
  • 2 “straight to red” categories
  • Red / Amber / Green colour boundaries will be fixed by VOSA.