DVSA ability to handle testing after suspension is questioned

Questions have been raised about DVSA’s ability to smoothly reintroduce MoT testing of heavy vehicles, including coaches and buses, after it announced a suspension of up to to three months because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

All PSVs with a test that is due to expire will be issued with a certificate of exemption “until further notice.” That extends their current test certificates for three months from the marked expiry date.

Operators need only apply for an exemption if the vehicle’s MoT expires in March 2020; for a vehicle that needs a first test before 31 March; and for a vehicle that is returning to service where the test certificate expired before March.

Paper certificates will not be reissued but DVSA records will be amended to allow continued operation. DVSA will refund reservation fees for tests scheduled from 21 March onwards.

The Authorised Testing Facilities Operators Association (ATFOA) says urgent action is now needed to allow ATFs to start planning for the resumption of testing.

It is seeking guidance on whether tests that are booked in advance or those held over while testing is suspended should have priority. ATFOA says that both its members and DVSA will see their capacity to perform tests “overloaded” when business resumes.

Adds ATFOA Chairman Stephen Smith: “DVSA struggles to supply the flexibility that the market requires under normal conditions, so ‘suspended’ vehicles will likely need a further exemption as slots will not be available.

“Even if DVSA offers an additional three-month exemption, the reality will demand a six-, nine- or even 12-month period to help relieve demand unless DVSA considers other solutions.”

Mr Smith suggests that it could delegate authority to assist with the backlog, possibly on a temporary period. He also says that “transport compliance” measures such as the Earned Recognition scheme could be used to reduce the temporary demand for testing once it restarts.