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How the roadworthiness directive will affect heavy vehicle testing

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Lorry at an approved testing facility

We’re now getting close to implementing the roadworthiness directive.

Most of the changes will happen in May 2018, so I wanted to let you know about the main ones that will affect heavy vehicle testing.

Vehicles that will now need an annual test

From 20 May 2018, some heavy vehicles, based on an HGV chassis, will lose their test exemption and will need to have an annual test for the first time.

These vehicles must have an annual test by 20 May 2018:

  • volumetric concrete mixers
  • trailers
  • those used to travel abroad

Phased approach to testing

Testing will be carried out on these vehicles using a phased approach between 20 May 2018 and 20 May 2019:

  • mobile cranes
  • breakdown vehicles
  • engineering plant and plant, not being engineering plant, which is movable plant or equipment being a motor vehicle (not constructed primarily to carry a load) especially designed and constructed for the special purposes of engineering operations
  • tower wagons
  • road construction vehicles (but not road rollers and other specialised
    equipment not based on an HGV chassis)
  • electrically propelled motor vehicles registered since 1 March 2015
  • tractor units pulling exempt trailers
  • motor tractors and heavy and light locomotives exempted under sections 185 and 186 (3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, where these are based on a HGV chassis

However, during those 12 months, all these vehicles must be tested before their next Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) renewal date.

Testing on the Scottish Islands

The directive means that all heavy vehicles and trailers on the Island of Bute will need to be tested for the first time, whether or not they are used on mainland Great Britain.

All other heavy vehicles and trailers based on the Scottish Isles will only need to be tested if they’re used on mainland Great Britain.

This includes:

  • Arran
  • Great Cumbrae
  • Islay
  • Mull
  • Tiree
  • North Uist

You can find more information in the recent Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on ‘HGV periodic testing and inspections exemptions’.

Fast tractors

Fast tractors designed and built to do more than 40 km/h, will also need to be tested if they’re used for transporting a load that isn’t related to agriculture, horticulture or forestry operations, and used more than 15 miles from their operating base.

They must be tested 4 years from the date of their first registration and then every 2 years afterwards.

You can find more information in the recent DfT consultation for ‘Roadworthiness testing for fast tractors and other technical changes to vehicle testing’.

Defects found when testing

The directive will change how we categorise heavy vehicle defects at test. From 20 May 2018, we’ll use either ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’. This will help operators to focus on what’s more important to road safety.

Dangerous and major defects

If the vehicle is given a ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ defect, it will fail its annual test. We’re still working on how to make sure that dangerous defects are made clear to operators and our approach to issuing prohibition notices at the time of test.

We’ll be working on this early next year, and will blog about it again soon.

Minor defects

Defects identified as ‘minor’ defects will be viewed in the same way as ‘advisories’ are today.

We’re looking at how these will sit alongside the advisories we currently issue, and how best to display this information to operators.

Emissions testing

As part of the directive, we’ll be lowering limits for certain diesel engine vehicles and testing to manufacturer values where appropriate instead. This means some changes will need to be made to diesel smoke meter software.

We’re working with the garage equipment manufacturers to make sure this update will be ready for customers by May 2018.

Inspection manuals

Implementing the directive will mean changes to the manuals for heavy vehicles.

So far, we’ve had positive user feedback on the draft of the revised heavy vehicles testing inspection manuals, and we’ll make sure this feedback is used in the new version.

Over to you

As always, please let us know what you think of the work we’re doing, in the comments below.

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  1. Comment by Derek posted on

    How are you going to test a lorry that has no vtg plate and is not from the European union lots of recovery trucks are American what will happen to them

  2. Comment by Chris T posted on

    I'm not surprised by some of these changes, they've been a long time coming. However, I can see friction between presenters and testers when these new rules come into play.

    For example, IM05 Exhaust Emissions, "Engine MIL indicates a malfunction" is a Major deficiency. Engine MIL is a somewhat ambiguous term. Some people use it to identify any check engine light. Some use it to identify an emissions warning (the symbol usually looks like a cloud of smoke with an exclamation mark). Are we going to see vehicles fail their MOT because of minor engine management faults, such as a failing real time clock battery, or an intermittent sensor fault, which don't affect vehicle running or emissions, but could trigger a fault light.

  3. Comment by Paul Roberts posted on

    It’s about time. Some of the tractors Iv been stuck behind on main a roads look like they are falling apart

  4. Comment by Trevor posted on

    Consultations are too short and poorly communicated!

  5. Comment by J.Ball. posted on

    I think you are doing a great job but I have been retired over five years and maybe you don't need to keep me informed as I no longer operate LGV's. Thanks all the same.