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Changes to OCRS – Will Yours Go Up or Down?

17th April, 2012

VOSA has delayed a revision of the OCRS system due to unspecified technical issues.  The changes had been due to come into force on 30 April.  While it’s a case of “watch this space” for now, it’s worth understanding how the changes will affect operators.

Changes to the OCRS system are to be introduced which could have significant implications for all.

The Changes

Predictive scoring is to be removed.

  • Predictive scoring is to be replaced by introducing a new ‘grey’ band for all operators who have had no encounters in the last three years.  It is important for operators to understand where this new ”grey” band sits in terms of VOSA’s targeting of vehicles:

Traffic – between red and amber.

Roadworthiness – between amber and green.

Banding will be based on the actual baseline figure and no longer on a league table basis.  The baseline figure will be calculated each Friday (available on the following Sunday) by dividing the total points by the total number of encounters over a three year period.  While the period is being extended from 2 to 3 years points will be weighted by age:

–            Less than 12 months old – full weighting.

–            12-24 months old – 0.75 weighting

–            24-36 months old – 0.5 weighting.

Prohibitions and test failures are now all standardised.

  • This means you will be issued with a set amount of points depending on the type of infringement which has occurred.  The range of points can be found here:

Points for fixed penalties will now also be included in the OCRS calculation.

  • This means a fixed penalty of £120 will add 100 points the Operator’s OCRS. The banding VOSA has currently issued means that if such an event was a first encounter for that licence, the Operator’s OCRS would immediately go to red for which ever category (Roadworthiness or Traffic) the fixed penalty related. Full details can be seen here:
  • For that Operator to remedy the situation it would need a further 3 clear encounters of some description to get their baseline score below 25 or 30 points and back into amber and a further 9 or 19 clear encounters to get into green!.
  • If an encounter results in both a fixed penalty and a prohibition then only the prohibition attracts the points.
  • Points attach to a fixed penalty on its acceptance not on its issue.

Straight to red (“STR”) events.

  • Certain events will trigger STR for a period of either 6 or 12 months.
  • If an operator is convicted for any offence or a Most Serious Infringement (MSI) is detected, irrespective of the operators baseline score its OCRS will automatically be red for 12 months for a conviction or 6 months for an MSI.  More details can be seen here:
  • The conviction of a driver does not trigger STR but does attract points.
  • STR will place vehicles immediately into the red high risk category and will be much more prone to roadside inspections.
  • At the end of that period the OCRS will be determined by the operator’s then current baseline points.
  • With 600 points for a single conviction those operators would need 23 clear encounters to move their roadworthiness baseline score out of the red band or 19 clear encounters to move their traffic baseline score out of the red band
  • Prior clear encounters will reduce the baseline and being in red may well mean that it does not take long to have 19 or more further encounters but it is critically important that these encounters are all clear.

The new rules regarding fixed penalties and convictions create a tension that may not be that easy to resolve:

  • If a driver refuses a fixed penalty and successfully defends in Court points will be avoided.  This is clearly in the operator’s best interests.
  • The driver may prefer to accept the fixed penalty and avoid the risk of a higher fine in Court, prosecution costs, victim surcharge and the costs of running a defence.
  • Band 3 & 4 fixed penalties (£120 & £200) attract 100 or 200 points, but a driver’s conviction only attracts 50 points.  Note however that some Band 4 fixed penalties will be MSIs – e.g. using someone else’s driver card.
  • Refusing a fixed penalty may also result in VOSA deciding to prosecute the operator with the risk of STR.

For more on this particular issue go to;

Operators must therefore ensure that they have systems in place such that their drivers keep them fully advised as to all encounters particularly those where prohibitions or fixed penalties are issued.

VOSA have set the bar very low with a baseline of over 25 putting a licence into the red band for Roadworthiness and over 30 for the Traffic Enforcement red band.  While the number of clear encounters is obviously critical, in real terms the following events could put an operator into red:

  • An MoT failure for a minor defect.
  • A delayed prohibition for a minor defect.
  • A £60 fixed penalty for a drivers’ hours offence.

Will these changes move more operators into red?  VOSA say that the modelling they have carried out indicates that while there will be some winners and some looser they do no anticipate any significant changes in the number of operators in each band.  If these changes do result in an increase of operators in the red band surely this will devalue the scheme with respect to targeting the seriously non compliant.

A high standard of compliance is now a must, the penalties for getting it wrong could now have long term consequences for fleets with increased stops from VOSA leading to costly delays.

Please note that the information and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional advice.  Specific advice concerning individual situations should be obtained from Tim Culpin on 01244 405533 or by email to [email protected]



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