Maximum authorised mass brake testing still on hold 29 July 2011

Industry proposals to move to testing commercial vehicle brakes (freight and PSVs) against maximum authorised mass (MAM), rather than design weight, remain in abeyance.

VOSA vehicle standards manager Andrew Cattell says that, although the agency is keen to work with the industry and recognises that MAM would level the playing field for vehicles, there will be no change when the new Testing Directive comes into force in January next year.

Cattell cites two key reasons. First, moving to a MAM regime will require VOSA and the existing DPs (designated premises) and ATFs (authorised testing facilities) to invest in potentially expensive updated software and technology, with no clear benefit to the public – only to the HGV industry.

Secondly, any such change could force a marked change in MOT first pass rates, as the industry becomes acquainted with the new requirements – the big worry being the PSV sector, where operators are accustomed to calculation-based unladen testing.

"At the moment, the commercial climate isn't right for this scale of change," states Cattell. "Additionally, while we accept there are discrepancies with the existing system in testing near identical vehicles on stopping power, because of theoretical differences in their design weight, we also need to be sure of getting meaningful results that don't prejudice road safety and the industry."

Cattell sees the sense in the bus and coach industry coming into line with the HGV world, and moving to testing vehicles to applicable axle and gross vehicle weights, instead of using outdated calculations – particularly given the unladen weight of modern buses.

However, he maintains that the agency needs to effect the change in a controlled manner.

"Bus and coach operators won't have to do anything differently in the test itself: if more than half the wheels lock, then they meet the efficiency performance, provided the others are within limits," he states. .

"They just need to conduct their pre-tests bearing in mind the vehicle MAM, rather than the old unladen weight calculation before they present the vehicle to us for inspection…

"We have asked industry to come back to us with evidence-based data and I understand they are working on a proposal."

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

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