DVSA roadside vehicle checks for commercial vehicles

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:13th February 2023

Red lorry on country road

When driving a commercial vehicle, it is possible that you will be stopped for a roadside vehicle check. This could be by the police, or by an officer for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

You are eligible to be stopped if you are driving a commercial van, lorry, bus or coach.

The DVSA officers wear a recognisable hi-vis jacket, and their vehicles are marked with a black and yellow print. Officers will also carry a warrant card, so you know that the check is a legitimate, legal operation.

Why are these roadside checks carried out?

These checks are carried out to determine whether the vehicle is breaking any rules or regulations. This is done to keep unsafe vehicles off the road.

Whilst most accidents are in fact caused by driver error, it is safer to ensure that all vehicles on the road are meeting a certain standard. Otherwise, the overall rate of accidents in the UK may rise further.

The following checks are likely to be made:

These checks will be carried out by DVSA officers by the side of the road or, in some circumstances, at dedicated testing sites.

If these checks are failed, your vehicle might be immobilised, and your business could be fined and even prosecuted for operating a dangerous vehicle.

What are some myths surrounding roadside checks?

According to the DVSA, there are some misconceptions around these roadside checks. Drivers may even be made to fear them unnecessarily.

Will cars also be checked?

Car drivers might be nervous to hear that officers are checking vehicles in their area. However, they need not be.

These roadside checks only target commercial vehicles. This is because they are typically larger, and therefore pose more of a risk to other road users.

Commercial vehicles also tend to be on the road for longer time periods than cars. These checks also ensure that drivers are taking breaks and not driving for longer than the law allows.

With HGV drivers in short supply, businesses may be encouraging their drivers to be on the road for longer to make up for this, so these checks are now more important than ever.

Will all commercial vehicles be pulled over?

These checks are aimed at businesses who are known to be non-compliant. Businesses that have passed checks before, or are part of the DVSA earned recognition scheme, are much less likely to be pulled over for a check.

Officers are able to check how compliant an operator is on their devices.

This is a great incentive to keep your vehicles in good condition, as passing these checks now will mean you won’t have to go through them again in the future.

Where does the money go from roadside fines?

If you are fined for failing these tests, you might be concerned about where that money is going.

According to the DVSA, all fines go straight to the government and used to fund vital public services. The fines are also used to fund the DVSA’s operations.

An exception to this rule is the £80 fee that the DVSA charge to free up an immobilised vehicle once a serious defect has been amended.

White van on road with lens flare

Why bother with these checks if most accidents are down to human error?

Only 2% of accidents on UK roads are a result of vehicle defects, so drivers might question whether the roadside checks are necessary.

However, the DVSA argue that it is because of these checks that faulty vehicles do not causes accidents. Annual MOTs and test for larger vehicles, in conjunction with these roadside checks, are helping to keep our roads safer.

These checks do also ensure that drivers are not on the road for an excessive amount of time. This keeps drivers off the road who might be feeling tired and not concentrating properly.

Will your business be massively fined for any vehicle defect?

The fine that your business might receive for running an unsafe vehicle will be proportionate to the severity of the defect.

Brakes that are heavily eroded for example might encourage a fairly hefty fine. On the other hand, if there are only minor faults, you might not be fined but will be issued an advisory notice that encourages you to get the fault fixed.

Whilst businesses might argue that they were unaware of the fault, this is uncommon. 85% of defects can be spotted during the driver’s walk-around check that they should carry out before each journey.

What happens if you don’t stop for a check?

You must safely stop your vehicle when signalled by a DVSA officer. To ignore the signal and continue driving is in fact a criminal offence.

If you do not stop, your vehicle details will be recorded so that you can be chased up later.

You might face court action, or have your operator’s licence suspended or revoked.

How can Fuel Card Services help?

As you can tell, it is worthwhile to make sure your commercial vehicles and drivers are prepared to pass a roadside vehicle check. Ensure that your vehicles are in prime condition and your drivers are doing their best to maintain the vehicle’s health.

With MyService.Expert, we make vehicle maintenance quick, easy and painless. We offer pre-negotiated rates at thousands of dealers and garages, with consolidated HMRC compliant invoices.

Get in touch today and see how we can help your businesses save time and money.