VOSA Effectiveness Report 2009-10


VOSA report that the economic climate has affected Testing volumes, with heavy goods vehicles (HGV) and public service vehicles (PSV) volumes down, while MOT Tests of light vehicles and vehicle identity checks (VIC) are up, VOSA speculating that this is a result of motorists hanging on to their vehicles for longer and repairing moderately damaged vehicles.

MOT Testing Failure Rates 2010

Heavy Goods Vehicles

With an economic downturn, it follows that fewer goods will be transported by road, and this has resulted in reductions in Testing and Licensing volumes.

The number of Tests fell by 4.2% from 462,820 to 443,493. Initial Test failure rates also decreased over the same period from 36% to 27.4%.

Headlamp aim was the most common Test fail item, although following changes to make the headlamp aim standards easier to understand the previous 20.7% failure rate has decreased to 12.8% of vehicles.

Roadworthiness Enforcement

The number of HGV roadworthiness checks increased significantly in 2009/10 following a Secretary of State target to take dangerous vehicles and drivers off the road.

Fixed penalties have been introduced for obstruction to the forward view of the road and anecdotal evidence suggests that this has had a strong deterrent effect, drivers not wishing to lose part of their fixed fee for a journey on a fixed penalty.

The MOT Scheme and Light Vehicles


In 2009/10 the number of MOT Tests increased to 27,609,056, up from 27, 070, 607 in 2008/9 – an increase of 538,449.

Aside fom passenger vehicles with more than 12 seats, which saw a decrease in failure rates from 34.9% to 34.7%, initial failure rates have increased all round. Motorcycle failures increased from 21.8% to 21.3%, cars, vans and passenger vehicles with up to 12 seats (classes 3 and 4) increased from 39.9% to 40.6%.

On average 2.11 defects were found for each motorcycle initial Test failure, 3.18 defects for cars and light vans and 3.44 for private passenger vehicles.

Lighting and signalling was the most common fail item for all classes.

Disciplinary Action Against Authorised Examiners and Nominated Testers

This relates to action taken by VOSA to ensure that MOT Testing Stations are carrying MOT Tests out correctly and legally, neither failing vehicles which should pass, nor passing vehicles which should fail (it should be noted that VOSA’s own research indicates that there is a tendency for MOT Testers to pass vehicles incorrectly rather than fail incorrectly).

VOSA employs many methods to monitor MOT Testing Stations – ‘Mystery Shopper’ or ‘incognito’ excercises, where a vehicle with known defects is taken to an MOT Testing Station to be Tested, and the results noted; covert surveillance, where the comings and goings of vehicles into the garage doing the Test are monitored from a nearby property, often while simultaneously comparing entries which are being made on the MOT computer.

The decision to undertake these activites may be prompted by complaints from the public, disgruntled employees (an MOT Tester being forced to increase his failure rate for example), or simply by comparing the garage’s Test data on the MOT computer with a similar business nearby or nationally.

Another recently introduced quality check operation involves VOSA officials appearing after a member of the public’s vehicle has been Tested and immediately re-Testing the vehicle. Their result is compared to the result entered by the Tester onto the MOT computer. A serious discrepancy could result in disciplinary action being taken against the garage, Tester, or both.

VOSA also carry out what are known as ‘desk-based assessments’, where garages are assessed during a visit which is designed to determine the quality of service and practical and technical skills at any MOT Testing garage. This is known as the ‘Traffic Light’ scheme, as garages are categorised as ‘red’ – needing urgent attention to remedy serious defects prevalent at the garage, ‘amber’ – where the garage is in need of some attention and monitoring to improve its quality of service, or ‘green’, denoting that the garage provides an acceptable level of service.

The number of Authorised Examiners* ‘cessated’ by VOSA (after appeals) decreased from 111 in 2008/9 to 90 in 2009/10.

The number of Nominated Testers* disqualified from testing (also after appeal) decreased from 132 in 2008/09 to 128.

*The person licenced by VOSA to operate a Vehicle Testing Station (VTS), who may also be a ‘Nominated Tester’ – a person who is licenced to carry out MOT Tests at a VTS.

VOSA carried out over 8,700 site assessments and 8,400 visits to MOT garages, including re-examinations and mystery shopper visits. They also carried out over 7,000 desk-based assessments.

MOT Compliance Survey

This involves a recently Tested vehicle being re-examined by a Vehicle Examiner (a VOSA Employee) nationally, on a random basis, to establish that vehicles are being given the right Test result.

17.7% re-inspected vehicles were found to have been given the wrong Test result, an increase of 15.4% from 2008/9. However, the difference may be within the limits of normal statistical variation.

Headlamp aim accounted for 8-9% of the errors.

Single Vehicle Approval (SVA)

The Single Vehicle Approval scheme is a pre-registration inspection for vehicles that haven’t been type approved to British or European standards. The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that these vehicles are designed and constructed to suitable safety standards before they are used on public roads.

Continuing the trend from 2007/08, volumes of vehicle approvals reduced significantly on 2008/09 levels, with: Single Vehicle Approval volumes falling by 80.4% (over 3,500 approvals); Enhanced SVA volumes falling by 68.7% (just under 3,000 approvals), and Motorcycle SVA volumes falling by 27.4% (approximately 1,300 approvals).

The decrease may largely be due to the fact that the SVA scheme is being replaced by the more robust European Whole Vehicle Approval Scheme.

Vehicle Identity Check (VIC)

The Vehicle Identity Check is a scheme to help stop stolen cars being passed off as repaired accident damaged cars. This is also known as ‘ringing’.

The number of VIC checks continues to increase year on year, with an increase of 5.1% from 2008/09 in 2009/10.

Safety Defects

34% of all defects found were design-manufactured (as in 2008/09) and 9.0% were due to lack of maintenance (an increase from 8.0% in 2008/09). As a result of safety defect investigations, 28 safety recalls, 11 manufacturer production changes and 17 technical service bulletins were issued.

Overall, 241 safety recall campaigns were launched in 2009/10, of which 115 (47.7%) related to cars and light goods vehicles. The total number of vehicles involved in all recall campaigns was 1,171,952 (an increase of 8.4% on the number in 2008/09).

Collision investigations

VOSA investigated a total of 1,357 collisions in 2009/10 compared to 1,219 in 2008/09. This increase was the case for both HGVs and PSVs, whereas there was a decrease in the number of car and motorcycle collisions investigated from 183 to 113.

Roadside checks, prohibitions and prosecutions

VOSA carried out 229,194 roadworthiness checks in 2009/10 an increase of 16.2% (nearly 32,000 checks) on 2008/09. The number of traffic enforcement checks also increased by 32% (almost 39,000 checks).

As in 2008/09, HGVs made up the largest number of vehicles checked. Roadworthiness prohibition rates increased for both HGVs and PSVs.

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