Seasoned haulage drivers know how important it is to keep their most important piece of equipment – their lorries – in tip-top condition. Even so, undergoing annual road worthiness tests on haulage vehicles can be a hassle. Now, new developments within government regulating bodies are poised to make this yearly process much easier – including the exciting possibility of hauliers testing their own vehicles. |
Annual Testing and the DVSA
Annual testing is required by the government for lorries, buses, and trailers. The yearly inspection not only checks a vehicle’s safety features, but also tests whether the vehicle is being operated in an efficient and effective manner. Hauliers should plan to drive their own vehicle during the test unless asked to do otherwise.
As it currently stands, only examiners from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) can carry out annual road worthiness tests on heavy goods vehicles. The DVSA is a branch of the Department for Transport, a body which also includes the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
The DVSA currently conducts annual inspections at publicly-owned vehicle testing stations, or at a privately owned Authorised Testing Facility (ATF). Currently, no matter which type of facility you visit, the inspection will be carried out by DVSA staff.
Safe, Secure, Sustainable
The status quo on yearly inspections, however is beginning to change. In early June, the Department for Transport published its motoring services strategy, which outlines how the DVSA, DVLA, and VCA will operate in the future. The document, entitled Safe, Secure, Sustainable, indicates a number of shifts in policy that could have real impact on the haulage industry.
The Department for Transport, according to the document, is beginning to divest itself of its publicly-owned vehicle testing stations and turn more toward expanding the network of ATFs. The document also states that in future, annual tests will be carried out by qualified personnel who are not employees of the DVSA. The move suggests a pivot towards more cooperation with the private sector.
The Future of Testing
Perhaps most exciting for the freight industry is the possibility that employees of private haulage companies will be allowed to conduct road worthiness tests on their own heavy goods vehicles. Firms can already test their own light vehicles, report that “We are examining whether a similar approach would be suitable in relation to other categories of vehicles”.
The recent moves by the Department for Transport are indicative of efforts to make the department’s agencies more company-friendly. The changes as outlined in Safe, Secure, Sustainable make it easier for haulage companies with large fleets to keep all their vehicles tested and up to date with current regulations. And perhaps most attractive of all for hauliers themselves, the new rules open up the possibility of getting qualified to inspect heavy goods vehicles – including their own! After all, who knows a lorry better than the haulier who drives it?
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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