The Roadworthiness Directive – How will it affect your business?

The Roadworthiness Directive will be implemented over the next few months and we wanted to make you aware of some of the main changes to heavy vehicle testing.

Most of the changes will be implemented in May 2018, below are the ones we thought were most important.

There are some types of specialist vehicles such as recovery and construction vehicles that you currently do not need to put through an annual roadworthiness test. Exemptions were originally based on a mixture of the vehicle’s design and what it is used for. The DVLA no longer deem these exemptions appropriate since vehicle designs are becoming more standardised, they believe annual testing is essential for most vehicles to keep our roads as safe as possible.

Vehicles that need to be tested by May 2018

Some heavy vehicles based on a HGV chassis including volumetric concrete mixers, trailers and those used to travel abroad will lose their exemption to testing in May 2018. Their annual test will need to be completed before this date.

Further Vehicles

Further vehicles will also need to be tested; the DVLA will use a phased approach between May 2018 and May 2019 to introduce these. This will include cranes, breakdown vehicles and road construction vehicles (see full list) 

Tractors that are designed and built to do more than 40 km/h need to be tested if transporting a load unrelated to agriculture or forestry and used over 15 miles from their operating base (Read full guidelines) 

Test Defects

The directive will change how defects are categorised during the test. From May, the categories ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’ will be introduced to make it easier for operators to focus on defects that are essential to safety. If any dangerous or major defects are found during a test, the vehicle will fail. Minor defects are the same as those currently classed as advisories.

Emission limits for some diesel engines will also be lowered, meaning changes will need to be made to diesel smoke meter software.

The DVLA are still working on this element of the directive to ensure it is as simple and clear as possible, they will continue to release further information.


Both the DVLA and businesses will incur costs due to the introduction of the directive. With around 30,000 vehicles expected to be affected, the total cost to businesses is anticipated to be £487,000 in the first year. Something to bear in mind is that driver and vehicle down time , along with the cost of the test will be on average of £251 per vehicle.