Learn the commercial vehicle wheel wash regulations in this article

It’s your responsibility to prevent mud, dirt, and debris from your site from getting onto public roads and highways. But what are the regulations in the UK? Where can you find out about your requirements? And how do you prevent mud from getting onto roads?  

In this article, we’ve summarised some of the key regulatory requirements you need to know and the equipment available to prevent costly regulatory penalties.  


The cost of doing nothing: £1,000,000+ 

In the UK, the Highways Act specifies the regulatory requirements site managers and contractors must follow. Failure to comply can lead to a fine of £1,000, plus the cleaning bill from the highways authority as a result of any mud from your site on roads. Furthermore, if mud on the road caused by vehicles from your site contributes to personal injury, property damage, or any loss of inconvenience, civil action could result in fines topping £1,000,000.  


What is a public highway?  

A public highway is not just a road – it includes footways, footpaths and adjacent verges, bridleways, as well as the road itself – whether adopted or not. 


What are the regulatory requirements?  

Highways act section  Summary of legislation:  


Section 137  Highway authorities have the power to issue fines for obstructing free passage along roads. 
Section 148  It an offense to deposit mud etc. on the highway that would interrupt other users of the highway.
Section 149   The highways authority has the power to clean the road and recover its expenses from the person causing the obstruction. 
Section 161  If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything whatsoever on a highway in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured or endangered, that person is guilty of an offense. 


So, what can you do to prevent mud from your site from ending up on public roads and highways?  

There are three main options:  

  1. Hiring a road sweeper  

A road sweeper can be the best choice if you have a very small site where there isn’t enough room for a wheel wash. It’s not ideal as it is reactive to mud already getting on the road.  

Road sweeper vs wheel wash


 2. Manual vehicle washing with hoses 

Placing a vehicle wash station at a site exit is an option. However, surface run-off from washing areas can contain high levels of pollutants such as: 

  • detergents 
  • oil and fuel 
  • suspended solids 
  • grease
  • antifreeze. 

You must not allow run-off to enter surface water drains, surface waters, or groundwaters. This will cause pollution and you could be prosecuted. 

Therefore, this is why option 3 is usually the best because our wheel wash systems contain and collect the waste materials proactively before any waste is deposited onto roads.  


3. Hiring or buying a wheel wash system  

Hiring or buying a wheel wash at the exit point of your site is widely recommended. It’s a preventive measure which means you don’t (usually) need to worry about hiring a road sweeper and they are easy to use – simply drive through the ramps and the wheel wash takes care of the rest.  

However, there are many different types of wheel wash systems – powered or non-powered, ones that bathe wheels or spray them with powerful jets, others even remove mud through vibration. The question for most sites isn’t “do we need a wheel wash?”, it’s “which wheel wash do we get?”  

Our consultative approach means we help and advise customers to make sure the entire solution works for them.  


What you should do now:  

Regulations require you to do everything possible to prevent mud from being deposited on the road. Wheel wash systems are the most popular solution for busy sites with lots of traffic.  

For most sites, the challenge is getting the right wheel wash for the exit location.  

Wheelwash design a solution around you. For more information about our expert wheel wash systems, which are designed and manufactured 100% from one site in Cheshire, UK, please get in touch with our sales team: sales@wheelwash.com.


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