Since moving into this role in 2019, I’ve become aware of the challenges faced by ATFs and operators because of the current model of annual (MOT) testing.
As you know, this has DVSA delivering the MOT test for heavy vehicle operators in privately owned Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs). So, it’s a model that needs a close partnership to make it work.
Last year this led to the Department for Transport working with DVSA and industry representatives on the Heavy Vehicle Testing Review. Its purpose was to review the current model for heavy vehicle MOT testing and look at how we could improve it.
In this first of my regular blogs about the review, I’ll bring you up to date and highlight opportunities to provide feedback.
Key findings of the Heavy Vehicle Testing review
The review makes 6 recommendations. We will come back to these a lot in this blog. But it’s fair to say the main theme running through it is about making sure we have the right number of vehicle standards assessors to deliver the flexibility that industry wants.
Other recommendations include things like how we end the temporary suspension on opening new ATFs and how we schedule our vehicle standards assessors to ATFs.
Starting to change
The first change to come from the review is to open the market, by ending the pause on applications for new ATFs.
For this first phase we’ve set some criteria for applications, so that we don’t adversely impact existing ATFs. But it will begin to improve the breadth of the service.
In early June we started accepting applications meeting these criteria. Where these meet the criteria, we will open new sites. Where applications don’t quite meet the criteria, we are providing feedback to help applicants.
Over the next few months, we will talk to operators and ATFs about how to resolve the balance between how far ahead ATFs can book our vehicle standards assessors, against the short notice flexibility that customers – both ATFs and vehicle operators – may need.
We have tried different approaches over the last few years and by working with industry, we want to find a solution that works for everyone. This is an area it would be great to have views on.
We deliver the heavy vehicle MOT testing service to vehicle operators in partnership with ATFs. So, we need to work with both in order to measure success across the whole service.
The things we measure, like the utilisation of our vehicle standards assessors and how often we cancel appointments with ATFs, are important. But they are not the be all and end all. So, we want to get to a broader set of measures.
Transparency is key to making this work, so we will continue to be open about how we are doing.
‘Find an ATF’ service
The review took place during a period of high demand for MOT testing, as the profile of the exemptions led to a peak in demand.
So, in parallel to the review, we developed the ‘Find an ATF’ service. This allows ATFs to share information about short-term MOT test availability and helps vehicle operators to find a test at a nearby ATF.
As we again enter another busy period, I hope ATFs will use the service and share information about their capacity. Hopefully, this will help vehicle operators who are finding it hard to get an MOT test.
We are also keen to hear feedback from vehicle operators and ATFs about whether this is a service that goes far enough. For example:
- should it include information about longer-term capacity?
- is there more we can do to help vehicle operators find MOT test appointments?
- does the existing relationship between operators and ATFs mean this service isn’t needed?
As with all of this, we are keen to hear your views.
Making this work
I don’t just want to work through the recommendations by putting a tick against each one. As we work through the changes, we will consider the bigger picture for heavy vehicle MOT testing. For example, we’ve been asked to look at scheduling and if as we do this, we spot other things we can improve, we will look at these too.
We will work with the trade bodies, our customers and partners to gather real insight and make sure that we do this right.
If you’re reading this and have a particular interest or need, please share your views in the comments section below.
We are organising customer engagement workshops with ATFs and vehicle operators to help us get much broader insight of how vehicle testing fits into different business models. We will also use the channels we have with trade bodies and direct conversation with customers to help us build on this.
We’ll use future blog posts to share feedback from the workshops, our thoughts and explain how you can get involved further in our plans to develop the testing service.
Where will we be next year?
In the next 12 months, I want us – working together with industry – to have addressed all the recommendations in the review. We will either have implemented a solution or have a clear view about where we are going.
I want us all to get the high-quality heavy vehicle MOT testing service that we need.
For vehicle operators this means being able to easily get an MOT test that can sit seamlessly with their routine planned and preventative maintenance, so that they can go about the important business of moving goods and people around the country.
We deliver the MOT test in partnership with ATFs, who are responsible for enabling the service through booking vehicles in – and often delivering this as part of maintenance and repair work. So, we need to make sure that the way we work helps ATFs provide a quality service to vehicle operators. No one party can do this alone and our work with ATFs is critical to delivering the service.
We also need to make sure that all of our colleagues in DVSA come along on the journey with us. It’s a period of change and opportunity as we introduce more flexibility and resource into the service to make it better meet customer needs.
An opportunity for us all
We can’t do it all at once. But if we do it in the right way, I am convinced that we can improve the service over the next 12 months.
We will continue to give you regular updates on our progress. And we will be honest about what’s going well and what’s not going well.
Please do let us know your views, and where you aren’t sure we understand how this all fits in with your business – let us know.