The DVSA recently conducted a review of commercial vehicles in the months after their MOT.
And the data is alarming:
Just 3 months after their annual tests, vehicles were being banned from the road 10 times as much as the first month after the test.
That’s a staggering decline in the safety of commercial vehicles. And it’s happening long before those vehicles are anywhere near their next MOT — with 9 months left before the next annual inspection.
So what does that mean for fleet owners and workshops? And what do commercial vehicle operators need to do to make sure their vehicles are fit for the road?
Let’s get into it:
What’s going wrong in the months after an MOT?
We all know there’s a legal requirement to get an MOT each year.
But there are other legal requirements beyond that — and this new data suggests that fleet operators and drivers may be neglecting their vehicles.
The DVSA’s study showed that 60% of HGV defects found on the road in those first 3 months could have been reported and fixed (or could have been noticed by the driver during the journey).
That’s a huge number of avoidable vehicle issues — and a huge number of avoidable costs and consequences for those businesses.
So what exactly is going wrong?
It’s likely that these drivers and companies:
- Haven’t had the right training
- Aren’t conducting daily walk-around checks
- Aren’t carrying out regular maintenance at the depot
- Are ignoring faults and warning lights
- Or are under intense pressure to meet schedules — regardless of the risks.
What kind of problems do vehicles have?
There are all kinds of issues that can lead to a prohibition. And for inexperienced or poorly trained drivers, some issues that seem small can be easy to ignore — despite the real-world risks that come with them.
Here are a few of the most common problems that the DVSA found:
- Tyres that are worn and cut
- Defective suspension
- Issues with steering and brakes
- Faulty indicators and brake lights
- Broken mandatory mirrors
- And head lamps that don’t work at night.
These are all serious issues that can cause hazards out on the road. But the one thing that they all have in common is how easy they are to identify and prevent — with the right in-house tools, and the diligence to keep up a solid maintenance routine all year long.
What can fleet owners and workshops do?
The first thing to do is to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. It’s not just up to the drivers, and it’s not just up to their management teams.
Both drivers and fleet operators have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and roadworthiness of their vehicles. And that means you need to:
- Give your drivers the right training — particularly in identifying, reporting, and assessing defects
- Carry out daily walk-around checks on every vehicle before every journey
- And take unsafe vehicles out of action immediately until they can be repaired. (There may be concessions for some faults that allow you until the end of the day to make a repair.)
How can you make regular maintenance easier?
The DVSA’s data shows just how fast a commercial vehicle can become unsafe after an MOT. In just the first 3 months, a huge number of vehicles are already unfit for the road.
That means your vehicle maintenance needs to be frequent — not just regular.
If you want to catch these problems at the earliest stages, you’ll need to check your vehicles’ systems on a weekly basis at a minimum. And if you’re outsourcing these tests and checks, those costs are going to add up.
So to help keep your vehicles safe (and save money along the way), there’s plenty of workshop equipment you can bring in-house. That could mean investing in:
- Mobile or In-ground Brake Testers — so you can be sure your brakes are in top condition
- Play Detectors and Shaker Plates — to regularly test your suspension and steering
- And in-house Headlamp Testers — to stay safe and legal on the road at night.
Ready to start taking maintenance seriously?
If there’s one thing we can learn from the DVSA’s study, it’s that vehicle safety isn’t an annual issue.
Beyond the MOTs, you need regular maintenance and checks throughout the year if you want to keep your vehicles out on the road and earning money safely.
And if you don’t want to blow your budget on third-party services, you need to start bringing your testing equipment in-house.
Check out our full range of commercial vehicle testing equipment in our online shop — or talk to one of our expert teams to help you find exactly what your business needs.