Running a fleet is full of responsibility.
You’re responsible for your staff, your clients, your goods, and your deadlines.
But you’re also responsible for the safety of every other person out there on the road – and that means you need to be confident that every vehicle in your fleet is roadworthy.
Back in 2018, the DVSA released a set of guidelines to help vehicle-based businesses meet their legal requirements – and in December 2020, they updated those guidelines with a new publication.
So what do you need to know to make your fleet roadworthy and DVSA-friendly?
Let’s start with the basics:
How often should you inspect your vehicles?
We’d love to give you a simple answer that applies to every vehicle.
But in reality, there are only two real rules when it comes to the frequency of your safety inspections:
- You need enough inspections to always keep your vehicles roadworthy.
- Safety comes first – no matter how much you need your vehicles out on the road.
So how can you find the right frequency for your safety inspections?
You’ll need to assess each vehicle and how it’s used – and use the likelihood of degradation as a measure to guide your inspections.
In practice, that means thinking about things like:
- The type of vehicle, its age, and the recommendations of the manufacturer
- The type and range of its operations – and the terrain and environment it’s used in
- The type of load it carries, as well as any equipment or fittings it has
- And the distance, speeds, and times of the journeys it takes.
That’s a lot to think about – so the DVSA has provided some examples that you can use as a guide:
|How you use it:||How often you should inspect it:|
|Lightly loaded vehicles in easy conditions||Every 6-13 weeks|
|General haulage – trucking||Every 5-10 weeks|
|Constant heavy loads||Every 4-8 weeks|
|Off-road work in difficult conditions||Every 4 weeks|
|Vehicles that are more than 12 years old||Every 6 weeks|
This is just a rough guide to give you some examples. The only real test is whether your vehicles are deemed roadworthy – and if you fail that test, it’s already too late.
What does a safety inspection facility need?
If you’re planning to inspect your fleet yourself, you’ll need a fully equipped site to do it.
Luckily, the DVSA has laid out exactly what you need to get started. Here are the basic requirements for any safety inspection facility:
- Undercover accommodation for the largest vehicle in your fleet – for full inspections in any weather.
- Appropriate tools, lighting, and equipment for the size and nature of the fleet.
- An adequate under-vehicle inspection facility – like an inspection pit or a vehicle lift.
- Access to brake testing equipment, headlamp testing equipment, and emissions testing
- Access to under-vehicle washing facilities (steam or pressure).
- And of course – a safe working environment!
That covers the basics. Now let’s get into the details of what you really need in your equipment:
If you’re working on the underside of vehicles, you’ve got two options:
For the purposes of checking the roadworthiness of your vehicles, they’re both a perfect fit. In both cases, your vehicles are secured safely in a position that allows easy access to the undercarriage for your workers.
So how do you choose which one is right for your workshop?
In most cases, the biggest difference comes down to the practicalities of installing and using either option.
Inspection pits are an obvious choice for workshops with lower ceilings and extra floor space. But because they’re built into the ground, you’ll need to be ready to make permanent structural changes to your workshop.
Vehicle lifts, on the other hand, are a good choice for a workshop that doesn’t want to make big changes to its structure. And if you’re looking for flexibility, you can use a set of Mobile Column Lifts to lift vehicles in different parts of your workshop – so you can save space on your shop floor by putting the lifts away into storage.
When it comes to being roadworthy, brake testing is one of the most important parts of any vehicle inspection – and it should already be a part of your fleet’s regular check-ups.
According to the DVSA’s guidelines, a calibrated roller-brake tester comes ‘strongly advised’. But they do add that an approved and calibrated decelerometer is also acceptable for vehicles without trailers.
So how does a roller-brake tester work?
In simple terms, it acts as a simulator for the wheels of your vehicles – reproducing the same kinds of speeds and forces you’d experience out on the road, and measuring the vehicle’s ability to stop correctly.
In most cases, you’ve got two options for a DVSA-approved roller-brake tester:
You can go with an in-ground brake tester – a fixed installation that can be attached across an inspection pit or an ATF lane.
Or you can go with the more flexible mobile brake tester – so you can test your vehicles in different locations, depending on the schedule and layout of your workshop.
Headlamp failure is one of the most common problems you’ll see on any MOT – and if you want your vehicles to be roadworthy, it’s a test you can’t ignore.
Our own DVSA-approved 2100 Headlamp Tester uses laser adjustment to help you control and adjust your vehicle’s dipped headlights, main beams, and fog lights – giving you accurate and consistent measurements for the best test results.
And the best part?
It’s light, robust, and doesn’t need its own external power supply – making it a portable and flexible tester that can be used in almost any workshop arrangement.
Having a roadworthy fleet isn’t just about mechanical safety. It’s about chemical safety, too – making sure your vehicles are within the correct emission limits to protect the environment and the people you affect.
So what does that mean for DVSA approval?
For vehicles showing visible signs of smoke, you’ll need a diesel smoke meter – like our own DVSA-approved DS2 XP-0. By measuring and detecting the level of light blocked in a sample of smoke, you can get an accurate reading of the smoke density, and ensure that your vehicles aren’t going over the legal limits.
But it’s not just about the environment:
An accurate smoke meter can also give you a reading of your vehicle’s combustion efficiency. So you can make the improvements you need to increase your fuel economy – and save your business money!
Looking to keep your fleet safe on the roads?
Regular safety inspections should be a staple of every company that operates a fleet.
But if you want to hit the DVSA’s requirements – with the confidence you need to be sure your fleet is roadworthy – you’ll need the right tools in place to give you the accurate results you’re after.
So if you’re ready to hit the roads running with a safe and compliant set of vehicles, check out our new online shop to find the lifts, pits, and testing equipment you need.