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What DVSA’s strategy and vision looks like for vehicle testing

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3 lorry wheels

We published DVSA’s vision and strategy a few months ago, and I wanted to explain some of the positive things that it will mean for heavy vehicle testing. 

Our strategic plan to 2025 and vision to 2030 sets out our vision of keeping Britain moving safely and sustainably.  I would like to share more about what we’re planning in these areas across vehicle testing.  

New technology and utilising data

The vision sets out the likely impact that technology will have within DVSA, particularly as we see automation in the sector.  

We have already made progress in modernising vehicle testing for heavy vehicles, and we are continuing to identify more ways that we can adapt and modernise vehicle testing through pilot trials. 

One example we are currently working on is around whether we should include driver assist systems in the test ahead of our work on self-driving vehicles. This could be through accessing vehicle data during the test – to determine that those driver assist systems are working. It is still early days – but this gives an indication of the likely direction we’re heading in. 

Potential changes to emissions testing 

Another area of technology we’re looking into is around emissions testing. The MOT consultation carried out by DfT for light vehicles identified some areas where we could make improvements to vehicle testing through the introduction of PN (Particulate Number) testing for diesel engine vehicles. That could equally apply to heavy vehicles.  

Although the current test measures the density of smoke emissions, the size or quantity of particles are not currently measured. We know that these smaller particles are very harmful when inhaled so this is an area that may make sense to include in the test. PN testing enables us to determine if the vehicles emission control system is working as designed - including if a DPF (diesel particulate filter) has been damaged or removed. 

Again, our pilot work is in the early stages – on both heavy and light vehicles – but this approach of piloting will help ensure that we understand the practicalities of such a change and can ensure that any decision on whether to go ahead is as informed as possible.  

We appreciate that that this may mean changes for ATFs and vehicle operators, so we will make sure that full consideration is given prior to any changes.  

Removing the need for paper

As we continue to expand our new digital platform across the vehicle testing service, we want to encourage operators to view their vehicle’s record and history digitally rather than storing paper.  

Eventually, we want to stop issuing paper certificates altogether at the point of the test and remove the need to display plating certificates on vehicles. Instead, these documents will be able to be accessed through the digital record on GOV.UK. It will bring efficiencies to the service and support the positive steps we have taken towards environmental and sustainability targets.  

We’ll blog more about these digital improvements in the next few months and resolve any myths around keeping paper copies. 

Reviewing the booking system for ATFs 

Key to achieving our vision is ensuring that using the vehicle testing service is as easy as it can be – both for ATFs, and for the vehicle operators who use their services.  

As we move into next year, we plan to improve our digital services to make it easier for ATFs to request resources and communicate with us through our new MyVT online service.  

We want to move towards a model where testing days and hours are agreed with ATFs and changed by exception, rather than continuing on a quarterly basis.  

This will allow more flexibility and give longer term certainty for ATFs to take bookings. And of course, temporary or short-notice changes will still be able to be agreed as needed. As always, we would welcome any feedback on our proposed approach – as we move through that system development, we will conduct user research to ensure that the service reflects what works best for our customers. 

Improving the booking process for specialist approvals

Another big focus over the next few years will be improving the application, payment and booking processes for technical tests such as on Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) and Dangerous Goods (ADR) tests – using the new MyVT service. 

This move away from paper-based processes will help develop an intuitive online service in vehicle testing for applications, simplify the process and make the information required for each test and vehicle type clearer. Online payments and bookings will make it easier for customers and reduce the telephone contact through our Customer Service Centre saving time.  

We’ll be sharing more about this project in the new few months. 

Working in partnership

We want to continue to work closely with our stakeholders and ATFs to increase choice for customers.  

We will continue to prioritise areas of the country with fewer ATFs - in particular for ADR customers – bringing more ATFs onboard, where required. 

Our vision recognises that we need to continue to work in partnerships to deliver our goals. The relationship with ATFs is a good example of such a partnership – and we will need to continue to develop that partnership to ensure we can, together, deliver the best possible service to vehicle operators. That means that we will continue to listen to feedback and work with ATFs in recognising best practice to deliver the service. 

Changes for earned recognition operators 

We will be working with DfT (Department for Transport) and industry in reviewing the evidence and opportunities, following the call for evidence on possible changes to the vehicle testing model for Earned Recognition Operators, and taking forward any outcome and recommendations. 

Making our manuals and guides easier to use

A key part of our vision is to do more to inform, educate and advise customers to do the right thing first time. That means better services and safer practice for everyone. 

And for many of these manuals – the format is long established within the industry. However, as we have moved away from the physical book format, and technologies have changed – how the manuals are used in the workshop and elsewhere has also changed. We will therefore be working to ensure that these are presented as well as they can – and are understandable and accessible to all who need them. It would be great to get any early views on what could be improved. 

We will begin by reviewing our IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) guides, making sure the advice is clear, consistent and up to date. 

Making our data more accessible

Work has also begun to identify where we can make our data more accessible to help in the maintenance and design of vehicles, ensuring transparency and availability. We will be seeking feedback on the presentation of our data, for example our vehicle testing data, its use, and whether we can improve this, for customers, such as lease companies.

Working with the industry to reach the right audience

The support of industry has been essential in helping us get to where we are today and has helped us make huge strides in developing the service over the last few years.  

I hope this blog post is useful in explaining what we’re planning on doing over the next few years. I look forward to working in partnership with you to deliver these projects.    

As ever, we are really keen to hear your feedback, so please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

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