The Freight Transport Association (FTA), the organisation which speaks for the logistics industry, is urging the Government to undertake a comprehensive review of the HGV testing market and the way the annual test is delivered.
Speaking at the ATF Operators’ Association conference today (25 April 2018), FTA’s 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. We are calling today for a full review of the testing function at DVSA and proper consideration of independent testing.
“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.
Ms de Jong raised FTA’s concerns that DVSA is not measuring the factors which tell the logistics sector if the service is delivering. Instead, FTA has highlighted a range of metrics which are essential to better inform both DVSA and the industry on the difficulties being experienced and how to solve them. These 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.
According to Ms de Jong, the constraints of testers being employed by the Civil Service were preventing DVSA from recruiting staff to deliver the service industry needs
“Wage caps necessitated by Civil Service pay bands are making the recruitment of engineers for testing facilities a difficult task. Moving the testing process into the private sector could help to make the roles more competitive, and appealing, for the test staff required. Anecdotal evidence from our members indicates that 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, to ensure the UK fleet can stay on the road and compliant.
Following the launch on Tuesday (24/4) of the Earned Recognition scheme, de Jong suggested that operators who had demonstrated the standards to achieve the 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”.
FTA has pointed to previous commitments by the government to look at the issue of testing, including in the Government’s Motoring Services Strategies in both 2012 and 2016, and in DVSA’s own five year strategy
De Jong concluded: “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.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK PLC. A champion and challenger, FTA Speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.