Last reviewed 22 June 2020

We previously reported on the amendments to the rules affecting transport operators introduced to take account of the Covid-19 outbreak (see DVSA extends annual test exemptions and Guidance on remote auditing during the pandemic).

In the latest changes, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that it will resume testing for heavy vehicles on 4 July.

Having already issued a three-month exemption for vehicles due to be tested in June, it will issue further exemptions for July tests. The exemptions will be applied automatically.

In August, vehicles which have already received an exemption will need a test. All other vehicles due for a test in August will receive a three-month exemption. When those exemptions expire, vehicles will need to be brought in for test.

Statutory Document — grace periods

Meanwhile the Senior Traffic Commissioner has updated his coronavirus statutory document originally issued on 17 March 2020 (see Drivers and the coronavirus).

The latest version, which can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-contingency-and-emergency-planning-covid-19, includes details of an increase in the maximum time allowed for a period of grace for financial standing an operator can receive.

Previously, it was a maximum of 6 months with the Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) having set a four-month starting point. The law has been changed to increase that maximum to 12 months with the STC suggesting an initial 6-month starting point.

Any decisions about the grant or length of a period of grace will include an assessment of the risk to road safety.

This extension to the law applies to any determination made between 1 March and 30 September 2020. This is intended to give operators the opportunity to recover their finances during the extended period following the resumption of normal trading as the lockdown eases.

Statutory Document — in-person hearings

The updated document also confirms that the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) has agreed that in-person hearings can resume with effect from 6 July 2020.

Those called to a hearing will be advised of the time and date of their hearing, with sufficient notice given to prepare their case. They will also be given advice on the steps they may need to take ahead of the hearing in the provision of evidence, and on arrival to assist in maintaining social distancing and ensuring hygiene standards.

If they have concerns about attending in person, they should contact the OTC as soon as they are called to discuss the matter. Enquiries can be sent to Enquiries@otc.gov.uk or to an operator’s relevant case worker’s email address.

As the capacity of the tribunal rooms will be restricted during the current period, anyone who wants to attend a public inquiry as an observer will need to contact the OTC in advance.