DVSA updates the categorisation of defects during vehicle inspections

Revised guidance on how defects affecting a vehicle’s roadworthiness are categorised during DVSA vehicle inspections came into force on 1 February 2021. Changes include a ban on tyres over the age of 10 years on the front axles of buses, lorries, coaches and all wheel positions of minibuses (we have explored this ban and what it means for Operators in more detail in a separate blog, which you can access here).

Dash-mounted objects
Further notes on dash-mounted objects and technology, such as tables, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, have also been added to the section relating to issues affecting a driver’s view of the road. These are now classed amongst “any object seriously impairing the driver’s view through the area swept by the windscreen wipers”, in order to take into account the increased use of dashboard technology within vehicles over the past years.

If the driver’s view of the road is found to be seriously impaired by these or any other mentioned items on the dashboard during an inspection, it will result in an immediate prohibition notice. This means that the vehicle will be banned from the road with immediate effect, and will only be allowed to return once the defect has been rectified and a ‘Removal of Prohibition’ Notice has been issued.
Other updates

In addition to the above amendments, there have also been updates to the following sections:

  • Brakes – this involves changes to the way brake friction material is classed as a defect – for example brake friction material lining is now classified as “worn to excess” when it is less than 1.5mm thick. This can be visually assessed.
  • Lamps – this refers to defects to compulsory daytime running lamps. Examiners who find these types of defects will issue the driver with an inspection notice.
  • Steering control – this includes the addition of notes on steering locks, as well as an additional severity category for defects: “defective and inadvertently affects safe steering operation”.
  • Suspension – this has been updated to include several new defect severity options under the Complete suspension system malfunction category, these being:
  1.  “Adversely affecting stability/control or likely to cause a danger”
  2.  “Appears unlikely to affect stability/control or unlikely to cause a danger”

Keeping your vehicle roadworthy
In tandem with the defect categorisation updates, the government also released an updated version of its Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness in December 2020. Of particular relevance to Operators will be the updated Section 5.2 (tyre management system), which offers advice to drivers looking to comply with the new rules on tyres.

Consult the experts
If you are a vehicle operator and want to understand how the changes might affect your business, then we can help. Our dedicated Road Transport & Logistics team have an in-depth knowledge of the rules and guidance regulating the safety and roadworthiness of commercial vehicles.

For sound legal advice, please contact our lawyers at transport@woodfines.co.uk.
For more information, please see the DVSA ‘Categorisation of vehicle defects’ published at Categorisation of vehicle defects (publishing.service.gov.uk).

-Charlotte Hunt 

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