The RHA is calling for dangerous goods and international transport operators to be given priority when the DVSA restarts HGV testing on 4 July.

The DVSA stood down its assessors on 23 March at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and suspended all HGV and trailer tests for three months.

Last week it announced it would restart testing on Saturday 4 July. RHA said it welcomed the DVSA’s announcement but raised concerns at the lack of clear guidance as to how the tests will be ordered.

Tom Cotton, RHA head of licencing and infrastructure policy, said: “We have asked DVSA to prioritise this operator operating internationally so that they will not be caught out when the EU rescinds the exemption it currently has in place and we also want to see ADR operators prioritised, particularly as we are seeing traffic levels return to normal.”

He added: “We are also concerned about how the backlog will be cleared as ATF operators still do not know what allocation of testing time they will get, which makes it difficult for them to plan ahead.”

The Authorised Testing Facility Operators Association (ATFOA) said it was “deeply disappointed” that it has taken 15 weeks for the DVSA to restart testing.

ATFOA president Stephen Smith questioned why it had taken DVSA so long to come up with a set of safety procedures for DVSA testers to be able to resume testing.

“These are the same procedures ATFs put in place within 48 hours of lockdown and the same procedures we recommended DVSA take when we were consulted weeks ago, so why has it taken them so long to reach the same conclusion? The problem is the DVSA is always behind the curve.”

Smith also criticised the DVSA’s decision to assess the suitability of ATFs for testing from this week, based on the two metre social distancing rule, which government is expected to be reduce to a one metre by 4 July.

Smith said this was excluding some ATFs from testing which is reducing capacity needlessly.

He added: “We are not confident they will be able to deliver on the testing capacity needed if their operating procedure is based around the two metre social distancing rule as this will just add time to each test so they will be testing fewer vehicles per day.”

Smith also called for DVSA to make clear how ATFs should prioritise customers. He said: “Who do I prioritise? Is it the operator whose trucks are at the end of their exemption or the large customer running major operations or the smaller operator who is reliant on one truck to earn a living?”

Under the new testing regime, lorries due for an MOT in March and April have been given two three-month extensions, so must pass their MOTs by 30 September and 31 October, respectively.

Lorries due for an MOT in May, June, July and August have one three-month extension, so they must pass their MOTs by 30 August, 30 September, 31 October and 30 November, respectively.

Lorries due for an MOT from September onwards will receive no extension.

The DVSA says the exemptions for tests due in June, July and August will help it manage demand as it resumes testing.

In a statement it said: "We are working with ATFs to resume testing from 4 July and will be increasing the availability of testers over the coming months, in line with social distancing and the latest government guidance.”