The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently published results from its heavy vehicle annual testing regime for the second quarter of 2019 – and the takeaway message, the agency says, is that many of the test failures could have been avoided.
“Nearly a million lorries, PSVs and trailers take the annual test,” said Hugh Rimmer, DVSA vehicle testing task force lead, in a post on DVSA’s Moving On blog on the gov.uk website.
“About 89 per cent pass first time. But many of the reasons that vehicles fail could and should have been picked up as part of the daily walkaround check before the vehicle was driven or presented to us for testing.”
He continued: “Lorries, PSVs and trailers are subject to a far more rigorous maintenance and testing regime than private cars. It’s concerning how similar the top annual test failure reasons are to that of cars. And that a similar percentage fail for the same reasons as cars.
“A fuller look at the top ten reasons for test failure shows just how many faults should have been picked up as part of a driver’s daily walkaround check.
“And the majority of these faults could have potentially fatal consequences for the driver and other road users.”
The top reason for test fails are lamps, responsible for 3.5 per cent of fail results, followed closely by headlamp aim at 3.4 per cent. But in combination, more than six per cent of failures are braking-related, whether due to brake system components, the service brake or the parking brake.
Together, lighting and brakes account for half of the top ten failure reasons, but steering (1.8 per cent), suspension (1.5 per cent), speedo/tacho (0.8 per cent), tyre (0.8 per cent) and emissions (0.8 per cent) defects also feature in the list.
Hugh Rimmer advises that a visual check where possible can help identify suspension defects, and that if there is visible smoke coming from the exhaust, the vehicle will fail its test instantly.
“Picking defects up early can prevent the problem from getting worse, prevent accidents and reduce downtime caused by the vehicle failing its annual test,” he continued.
“It’s also worth pointing out that if the defect is worthy of a prohibition and it is obvious that it should have been seen during the walkaround check the prohibition will be S marked.”
As one might expect, fleet age was also a key factor in test failures, he explained – with HGVs aged 12 years or more having a 28.7 per cent failure rate, 18.9 per cent for PSVs of the same age, and 16.5 per cent for trailers. Increasing regular maintenance checks as vehicles got older should help to combat this, he suggested.
He also revealed that for vehicles from fleets of more than 100, the failure rate was 4.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively for HGVs and PSVs – as compared to 19.9 per cent and 26.1 per cent for PSVs for operators running just one vehicle.
The agency’s Moving On blogs can be accessed here.