The Freight Transport Association is calling for a full review of the HGV testing function at the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency and proper consideration of independent testing.
Speaking at the ATF Operators’ Association conference, FTA Director of Policy Elizabeth de Jong said: “Currently, DVSA is not measuring the factors which indicate whether vehicle testing processes are delivering or not, both for the operator and for legislators.
“Although industry can contribute to this review, it is not our review to lead – it needs to be led by Government, as it is their decision-makers who will need to be satisfied. This needs to be an urgent priority to give clarity and reassurance for all those involved in vehicle testing.
The FTA has highlighted a range of metrics which it believes are essential to better inform both the DVSA and the industry on the difficulties being experienced and how to solve them. It believes they should be publicly available, to monitor the efficient delivery of the test system, and should encompass:
• Testing hours requested by ATFs each month/quarter.
• Testing hours allocated by DVSA each month/quarter.
• Booked testing hours cancelled by DVSA each month.
• Utilisation level each month.
• Number of tests cancelled by the customer each month.
• Number of tests conducted at ATFs each month.
• Number of vehicles whose first test (of the year) took place after the previous test certificate had expired.
The FTA also believes the constraints of testers being employed by the Civil Service are preventing the DVSA from recruiting staff to deliver the service the industry needs.
“Wage caps necessitated by Civil Service pay bands are making the recruitment of engineers for testing facilities a difficult task,” Elizabeth de Jong said. “Moving the testing process into the private sector could help make the roles more competitive, and appealing, for the test staff required. Anecdotal evidence indicates there are still severe shortages of engineers across the country to carry out this vital work, despite assurances to the contrary from DVSA, and this is an area which will need urgent attention in the coming months.”
She suggested that operators who had demonstrated the standards needed to achieve the Earned Recognition marque should be allowed to conduct their own tests. “This is a scheme which DVSA has been developing for many years, and we know that its members will be operators of whom DVSA has the highest levels of confidence,” she said. “The time is now right for the HGV testing regime to be subject to a full and thorough review to develop a system which works best for industry, fee payers and road safety.”