This article was correct as of publication in early September. Readers should check the link below for the latest up-to-date information.
The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) last month announced a raft of further exemptions for vehicles approaching their annual test in order to help clear the coronavirus backlog, with vehicles and trailers originally due for test from September 2020 to March 2021 being automatically granted three-month extensions.
However, the agency also announced automatic 12-month extensions for vehicles or trailers up to two years old, as well as for operators whose whole fleets are participating in the Earned Recognition scheme, or whose operator compliance risk scores (OCRS) were in the green band with 50 or more events and had achieved a calculated roadworthiness base score of 1.3 or lower on 27 July.
These 12-month extensions apply to the operators or vehicles in question whose annual tests were originally due to expire from March onwards. Exceptions apply to buses and coaches originally due a test between certain dates.
Taking this new, two-tier approach to exemptions into account, alongside the three- and six-month exemptions that were granted for tests due in earlier months, the overall picture in terms of new test due dates is increasingly complex. Operators should therefore apprise themselves of the full and latest details here.
In August, DVSA advised third-party-run authorised testing facilities (ATFs) that the highest priority test bookings should be for vehicles and trailers legally due a test within a month – with other priority groups including vehicles going on international journeys, dangerous goods vehicles, specialist vehicles such as refuse trucks and gritters, and prohibition clearances.
Addressing operators who may be struggling to get a test booking, DVSA said: “We’ll be making more testing staff available to ATFs at short notice. So, it’s worth checking availability several times with a range of ATFs.”
James Firth, head of road freight regulation at Logistics UK (formerly FTA), said the government’s decision to listen to its advice and grant longer exemptions to the lowest-risk vehicles would “ensure that all critical logistics vehicles can remain on our roads delivering the essential goods and services the nation needs, without delay”.
“Adopting this approach is the safest and most efficient way for DVSA to manage the significant backlog of HGV tests that have built up during the pandemic,” he said.
“New vehicles or those with Earned Recognition or ‘upper green’ status have already proven they operate to the highest standards of safety and roadworthiness.
“Without this approach, we feared that DVSA would not be able to meet the backlog demand, meaning either vehicles would be parked up and would not be able to deliver the logistics services businesses and consumers require, or further blanket exemptions would need to have been issued irrespective of a vehicle’s road safety history.
“However, it is likely that the decision to only provide ‘upper green’ vehicles with exemptions will cause confusion among our members who have worked hard to meet the rigorous ‘green’ standard and felt that by that definition, they were proven to be running safe, efficient and reliable fleets.”