The Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) welcomes the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announcement it will supply more testers, but says only time will tell whether it will be enough.
The warning comes after DVSA and trade bodies met for the first in a series of round table meetings to discuss challenges faced by the industry and DVSA at Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs).
The meeting, which took place on June 13, included the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and concentrated on how DVSA, working with industry, could improve testing services for ATFs and operators.
DVSA director of operations south, Richard Hennessey, said: “We acknowledge that ATFs, operators and their representative bodies are very concerned about the availability of testing slots and the ease of securing a test booking.
“We are in the process of recruiting an additional 85 vehicle testers into the high demand areas. This will have the benefit of also relieving testing pressure in other parts of the UK.
“We have established measures to help ensure that there is adequate testing capacity in areas of high demand. These have already been put into operation for the busy summer period.”
DVSA is committed to improving the service and at the meeting agreed to: work with industry to help those unable to secure a test to find slots more easily; confirmed it would go ahead with plans to increase the number of network business managers; and issue more meaningful and regular management information.
Furthermore, it said it would improve the booking process from end to end, including exploring how we can make test availability more transparent to operators looking to secure a test slot.
It also vowed to consult with the industry on a review of the current testing model by the end of October 2018, and share and invite input into the terms of reference for that review with the trade associations.
Elizabeth de Jong, UK policy director at the FTA, said: “FTA's involvement with the DVSA roundtable helped deliver proposals to improve testing arrangements, for which our members have been eager for a long period. Achieving a meaningful measurement of the performance of the whole testing system has been a key priority for the freight sector, along with a full review of operations. FTA will continuing to work for a resolution to the testing issues.”
Tom Cotton from the RHA added: “The industry has had serious problems getting testing slots from DVSA that has stifled the ability to get vehicles tested quickly.
“The severe and active rationing of available slots has been getting worse for some time, so it is welcome that DVSA are now committing to improving the availability of testing slots and actively helping hauliers and ATF operators secure slots when needed.”
John Parry, chair of the irtec Steering Group, said: “We welcome DVSA’s announcement that it will supply more testers, but only time will tell whether it will be enough. This situation is endemic of a much wider problem; a lack of engineers in the transport sector.”
Parry continued: “At IRTE, our concern with out-sourcing would be from a safety perspective.
“We are dealing with complex vehicles that, even with a minor fault, can be dangerous. By out-sourcing, you are potentially taking away a level of quality assurance that could be decisive to how that vehicle performs on the road.
“If the MOTs were being conducted with irtec-licenced technicians in premises that are Workshop Accredited, safety would not be at risk.”