The annual test is an important part of the road safety system for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs). The basic delivery model has been in place since its introduction in the 1960s and was established and continued to be done in this way to reflect the safety risk these large vehicles can present. This model also ensures separation between responsibility for operation of the vehicle and the test itself.
However, during the past decade an important part of the delivery model has changed with most tests now delivered through privately owned authorised test facilities (ATFs), rather than government-managed test facilities. ATFs are typically operated by organisations involved in vehicle maintenance, such as dealerships, repair garages or vehicle users (operators or leasers).
In March 2021, DfT published the heavy vehicle testing review (HVTR), which looked at how heavy vehicle testing is delivered in Great Britain (GB). Broadly speaking, the review found that the service did function as intended in providing independent assurance that the maintenance systems for both HGV and PSV operators ensure minimum standards are met.
Vehicle operation and maintenance is complex. If it were found appropriate to change the current approach for ER (or similar) operators, this would need to ensure that the benefit is available across road transport operators including of various sizes. The potential increase in ER applications also needs to be considered should any testing benefit be introduced.
Any change will need to maintain assurance on the safe operation of vehicles. That will mean considering whether the existing ER scheme does this well enough or needs changing, and/or whether other interventions are needed (reflecting that these vehicles are not generally stopped at the roadside).
Evidence is being sought from all interested parties. The review will consider both potential short and longer-term changes. With three options being:
- to increase the time between tests
- delegated testing
- reduced test content
DVSA is also considering options that would benefit operators that are simpler to implement, for example, through improved service provision.