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Catching a Brake: DVSA Issues Best Practice Reminder

motorists should be aware of the changes incorporating the roadworthiness directive

Following a wealth of enquiries from operators, DVSA has reissued its best practice guidelines for vehicle and trailer brake testing.


Several important aspects of the process have been highlighted.


Firstly, the agency advises operators to load vehicles themselves if possible; if not, to arrange to have it carried out on their behalf. Many ATFs (Authorized Testing Facilities) provide this service. Operators should enquire with a facility well in advance, however, to gauge availability and cost.


Brake Testing – Laden or Unladen?


Among the most common queries directed at the DVSA was whether a vehicle or trailer should be presented laden or not. In response to this, the agency says a vehicle should be laden, and recommends an operator ensures the load is around 65% of the total maximum weight.

brake testing is especially important for long-distance vehicles
Operators: no longer in the fog over brake testing


To this rule there are exceptions, however. An example would be when a vehicle’s design does not allow for laden testing, or if the type of cargo usually carried is not suitable for a testing scenario.

A vehicle may be allowed to test unladen if it normally carries any of the following cargo:


  • livestock;
  • animal or human waste;
  • food;
  • fixed plant;
  • perishable liquids;
  • goods susceptible to contamination.


Vehicles that, due to design limitations, may be exempt from laden testing include:


  • bullion vehicles;
  • bin lorries;
  • mobile libraries;
  • catering vans;
  • pigeon transporters;
  • furniture removal trucks;
  • vehicles between 50% to 65% of their axle weight (DAW) when unladen.


And finally, the tri-axle semi-trailer may also be tested unladen. “This is because it can be difficult to get a load for these trailers,” DVSA explain.


More information on brake testing best practice can be found on DVSA’s blog.


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