Commercial operators urged to carry out regular maintenance

DVSA has reminded commercial operators of the importance of carrying out regular maintenance all year round to avoid dangerous incidents.

Data reveals that vehicles are issued 10 times more prohibitions three months after their annual test (MOT). DVSA examiners encountered a concerning 25 percentage point increase in prohibitions compared to the first month after an MOT. This indicates that some vehicles are not being adequately maintained following their test.

DVSA said: “We want to remind all operators to prioritise vital vehicle maintenance and ensure they are legal and roadworthy all year round. This includes checking you are getting what you pay for from third party maintenance providers. The data also shows that more than 60% of HGV prohibition defects found at the roadside three months after the MOT could have been reported and fixed before beginning a journey, or noticed when driving the vehicle.”

Several situations can contribute to this happening, including:

  • poor training for drivers, transport managers and/or operators)
  • inadequate walk around checks and defect reporting systems
  • drivers ignoring faults and dash warnings
  • incorrect assessment of defects
  • lack of vehicle breakdown support
  • operators being unable to access repair facilities in between safety inspections
  • drivers put under pressure to drive an unroadworthy vehicle
  • third party maintenance providers not performing their duties effectively.

DVSA said that both operators and drivers are responsible for making sure vehicles are in good working order before they leave their base of operations. It’s an offence to use an unroadworthy vehicle on the road. It is important drivers are allowed time to complete the necessary checks by transport managers within their schedule. Operators are legally responsible for ensuring vehicles are maintained and used in a roadworthy condition and drivers are legally responsible for the condition of the vehicle they drive.

DVSA continued: “Drivers generally don’t want to use an unroadworthy vehicle but sometimes they don’t realise how dangerous a vehicle can be, even with the simplest of fault. A very common example of this is a direction indicator not working. This can be very dangerous for other drivers and particularly vulnerable road users if indicators can’t be seen. This defect means the vehicle becomes immediately dangerous. We find many drivers and operators don’t realise the urgency and wait to get the indicator fixed when it gets back to base. If we check the vehicle at the roadside and find this type of fault, the vehicle will receive an immediate prohibition and the driver could get a fixed penalty. We want to avoid so many cases of this happening in the future as it is a waste of your time and resources to bring in a vehicle which will fail the test.”

Other examples include: a broken mandatory mirror, a head lamp not working at night, tyre cut to its cords, no brake lights.


DVSA offers this guidance. “As soon as any defect is spotted, it should be assessed as soon as it’s safe to do so. If it causes the vehicle to be dangerous it must not be used and treated as if the vehicle’s broken down. Anyone who is responsible for assessing vehicle defects should be competent and use relevant standards. The categorisation of defects will tell you how dangerous a defect is and what action would be taken if the vehicle is checked by enforcement.

“We do take a pragmatic approach for less serious defects that have occurred on the current day’s journey. These need to be correctly reported by the driver and assessed as not being dangerous. For defects we have mentioned above, we accept the vehicle can be repaired at the end of the current day’s journey. This concession is detailed in the introduction section of the categorisation of defects manual.”

DVSA concludes that as defects will inevitably happen, it is essential everyone is fully aware of their legal responsibilities ensuring:

-Drivers are properly trained, correctly identify defects, and get them reported and assessed as soon as possible

-The person responsible for assessing defects is competent and has the authority to remove the vehicle from service

-The operator has adequate systems in place to manage in-service defects, and gets the vehicle repaired or recovered as required.

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