The DVSA has been urged to introduce delegated private sector testing to tackle the mounting backlog of annual HGV tests which have been suspended during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The call comes from the Authorised Testing Facility Operators Association (ATFOA) which is warning that a backlog of thousands of annual HGV tests, suspended since 23 March, must be tackled immediately to ensure road safety and to prevent further financial hardship to authorised testing facility (ATF) operators, who derive a major part of their incomes from preparing operators’ trucks for their annual HGV test.

The annual tests are carried out by DVSA Vehicle Standard Assessors. However the assessors have been stood down during the pandemic lockdown and all HGV tests suspended for three months from 23 March.

The ATFOA is calling for testing to be delegated to ATF operators, using qualified testers, to help clear the backlog and as a way of trialling the service, for which ATFOA has been lobbying for some time.

In a bid to smooth the path to delegated testing, ATFOA is currently building a database of ATFs with qualified testers on their premises.

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Stephen Smith, ATFOA chairman told MT: “We would like to see delegated testing implemented immediately, employing independent ATFs working under the authority of DVSA.

“ATFs already prepare HGVs for testing and for their six-weekly checks, which are to a standard higher than their annual test, so we can easily and competently start testing now.

“The last thing we want is for DVSA to just push these tests back by three months as that will cause real hardship to our members, some of whom may not survive the three-month closure, which will result in reducing testing capacity further when the suspension is lifted.

He added: “DVSA struggles with the existing normal demand for testing and no one wants a backlog of testing, especially around the peak Christmas period when the industry will be trying to recover. Nor do we want non-compliant vehicles on the road.”

The DVSA has yet to respond to's request for comment.