What’s Changed in the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness (2023)?

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The Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness is a DVSA (Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency) document curated for transport managers and fleet owners to inform them how to comply with safety legislation and keep commercial and passenger-carrying vehicles safe and roadworthy.

Any updates to their guidance are of importance for operators, drivers and all those who are responsible for operating, maintaining or providing commercial goods and passenger-carrying vehicles. 

As of 18th April 2023, there are a number of changes to the DVSA’s guide – failure to comply with these updates can result in a prohibition, fixed penalty or points, so it’s vital to keep up to date with the legislation.

Definitions changed in the guide to maintaining roadworthiness

Types of inspections and checks

After listening to feedback, the DVSA learned that the guide created confusion around what checks you needed to carry out during a first use inspection, or how often a driver walkaround check should be done.

To add further clarity the guide has been updated with clearer definitions for each type of inspection and check: safety inspection, first use inspection, intermediate safety check and daily walkaround check.

  • Safety inspection

A safety inspection is a periodic inspection that is carried out at present intervals in line with what an operator has declared on the Vehicle Operators Licencing system (VOL). The scope of the inspection should at least include all the items covered by the statutory annual test and employ the methods of assessment that are prescribed in the respective inspection manual.

Examples of Safety Inspection forms can be found in Annex 4A(HGV), 4B(PSV), 4C(LGV) and 4D (small trailers) – the safety inspection form can be any format as long as the mandatory items listed in Section 1 of this guide are included on the form.

  • First use inspection

Prior to using a newly acquired vehicle/trailer on the public highway, operators must conduct a first use inspection to satisfy themselves that the equipment is in a roadworthy condition.

The scope of the inspection should at least include all those items that are inspected at an annual test, this includes conducting a laden roller brake test when appropriate for the type of vehicle. In some instances, a first use inspection is not required if sufficient evidence is provided to indicate that the equipment has been subject to a safety inspection. 

For example, documentation is provided to indicate that a new vehicle has been subject to a comprehensive pre-delivery inspection or a pre-rental inspection record has been provided by a hire/lease company.

  • Intermediate safety check

With some types of vehicles and operation, it may be necessary to check some components more often than at full safety inspections

For example, a vehicle used in urban areas such as a public service vehicle or a local delivery vehicle, or vehicles used in hilly areas, may require more frequent component checks, for example brakes, steering and suspension. It is sometimes necessary to check components following repair work. 

Any additional intermediate safety checks carried out should be documented and retained on the maintenance file. It should be clear in the documentation that these are an intermediate safety check and not a full safety inspection.

The DVSA have also added an intermediate safety check for the times you need to check the wear on some components more often than the safety inspections.

  • Daily walkaround check

A driver or designated responsible person must conduct a walkaround check of a vehicle/ trailer prior to using the equipment on the public highway. At least one walkaround check should be carried out in every 24-hour period that the vehicle/trailer is in service. 

Those carrying out such checks must be suitably trained and competent in identifying any faults that would render the vehicle/trailer unroadworthy. 

The scope of the check should include all items that are readily visible to the inspector without the need for dismantling. To facilitate the inspection, it may be necessary to use an assistant.

What else has changed in the guide to maintaining roadworthiness?

Light goods vehicles

From 21st May 2022, if you want to use light goods vehicles over 2.5 tonnes and up to 3.5 tonnes for hire/reward into/through the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you will need a standard international operator’s licence.

The guide has been updated to reflect this requirement so that you can prepare if you operate light goods vehicles for business use in the EU.

Towing another company’s trailer

Additional advice has also been added for those that tow another company’s trailer – this includes updated requirements around trailer authorisation on the operator licence and for whoever is responsible for maintenance including safety inspections, as well as whoever has access to the trailer documents.

Remember you as the operator are responsible for the condition of the trailer when it is coupled to your vehicle and you could receive a prohibition, fixed penalty or points if the trailer is found to be unroadworthy.

Brake testing

From April 2025, laden roller brake tests or Electronic Brake Performance Monitoring Systems (EBPMS) will, with only a few exceptions, be the only accepted methods for brake testing.

To prepare for this change, the DVSA have strongly advised that a laden roller brake test is carried out at every safety inspection

The guide now includes more detail on how to use EBPMS as well as more advice on brake testing in general.

A brake performance assessment can be carried out no more than 7 days before the safety inspection date.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)

As more vehicles have ADAS fitted the guide has added a new section including the need to recalibrate systems if the windscreens are replaced and guidance on making sure drivers are familiar with the different types of ADAS fitted across the fleet.

Other noteworthy updates

Other updates include:

  • Introduction of a roadworthiness declaration in the exceptional circumstances when the safety inspection report is not available when the vehicle is ready to return to service
  • Updated driver walkaround check reports to include height markers
  • AddedPSV automatic vehicle location systems

Learn more about what the guide to maintaining roadworthiness has to say about:

Read more about the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness’ previous major updates:


To keep on top of your walkaround checks, defect reporting and vehicle inspection/service scheduling, and to keep your vehicles safe, compliant and out on the road, an effective transport management & logistics software is essential.

Speak with one of our experts to find out more

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