We have all faced challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which have been unparalleled and over the past few months the focus has been on keeping everyone safe, so, it’s important that we remember to keep our distance and wear a face mask when required.

We all must work together to keep this virus at bay and to stop it from spreading, so, it’s important that we all play our part. When planning to travel, or when using transport, this means:

  • You should not travel if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating, or have been advised to continue to shield.
  • Keep two metres social distance – where that’s not possible try to keep at least one metre, taking suitable precautions such as wearing a face covering.
  • You must, by law, wear a face covering on public transport and in stations, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands regularly and do not touch your face.
  • Treat transport staff with respect and follow the advice of your transport operator.
  • The latest public health advice can be found on https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-oronavirus.

Government Agencies and especially the Driver & Vehicle Agency’s (DVA) services were affected during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March they took the difficult decision to suspend most of their services, in line with government guidance.

Only in recent months, the DVA has resumed its services with some restrictions as follows:

THEORY TEST CENTRES CHANGES

DVA’s theory test centres are offering fewer tests than normal due to social distancing measures. DVA apologises if you have not managed to find a test slot suitable for your needs at this difficult time. Keep checking the online booking service for availability in your area, as DVA continues to implement steps to increase test slots where it can. You must wear a face covering at the theory test centre.

PRACTICAL TESTS KEY CHANGES

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced.

As a result, all practical driving tests scheduled between 17 October and 13 November 2020 inclusive have been cancelled.

Driver and rider training and testing is also suspended until 13 November 2020. 

  • In line with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Health & Safety Executive NI (HSENI) guidance, the DVA is introducing the following changes.
  • Examiners will wash their hands before and after each test.
  • Examiners will wear a face covering throughout the test.
  • Candidates must bring and wear a face covering.
  • Face coverings must be worn for the duration of the test. The face covering must be retained by the candidate and not left on site. A face covering is a mandatory requirement, unless the candidate states a good reason not to wear one when booking the test; this includes physical or mental illness, impairment or disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering.
  • The test will be cancelled if the candidate refuses to wear a face covering and did not give a reason at the time of booking.
  • Candidates and instructors should arrive no more than 5 minutes before the test.
  • ADIs and AMIs should be prepared to wait outdoors during the test as they will not be allowed to accompany/observe or wait in the reception area.
  • The ‘meet and greet’ will be conducted in the car park. Further details are available here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/practical-test-cars.
  • The driving examiner must be satisfied the vehicle has been recently cleaned.
  • Before entering the car, the examiner may choose to fit a disposable seat cover to their seat.
  • The examiner may use an anti-viral wipe to clean the passenger touch points.
  • The DVA strongly encourages ADIs, AMIs and all candidates to download te StopCOVIDNI Proximity App. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-stopcovidni-proximity-app
  • The examiner will ask the candidate – “Can you confirm that you have downloaded the StopCOVID NI Proximity App, and that you understand your details will be passed to the relevant tracing authority if needed for Covid-19 tracing purposes?.”

PRACTICAL TESTS KEY CHANGES

  • If the candidate comes to the test with clear symptoms of Covid-19 the test will not go ahead.
  • If the candidate becomes unwell or starts to cough continuously during the test, the test will be stopped.
  • If a candidate commits a serious or dangerous fault (or makes 16 driving faults) this will result in a fail and they will be directed back to the Driving Test Centre. Test conditions continue until they return to the centre, where the test will be ended and a debrief offered.

MOTS AND TEMPORARY EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES (TECS)

Since vehicle testing was suspended, vehicles with a test appointment have been issued with a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC), to make sure that they may continue to be driven legally on the road. Issuing TECs has been an effective way of keeping vehicles on the road and making sue they can be taxed and insured. TECs will continue to be issued to all eligible vehicles until all vehicle testing services resume.

TECs will be automatically generated from DVA’s system for all eligible vehicles without any action needed to be taken by the vehicle owner.

Customers may check the status of their MOT and details of the new expiry date online at:

Check vehicle tax on https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-taxpage # 6 So, when you check online, it will show the date your MOT expires based on the initial TEC period that has been applied.

However, where applicable, the DVA will automatically apply further exemptions to ensure the full 12 months are covered.

All TECs will be automatically updated on DVA’s system and on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) system so that the vehicle can be taxed.

The DVA will not issue a hard copy of the TEC to customers.

VEHICLE ROADWORTHINESS

It’s important for owners to understand that it remains their responsibility to make sure their car is in a roadworthy condition to be used on a public road.

The PSNI and Insurers expect motorists to comply with their legal obligation to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition if they are using it on the road.

Owners should continue to service their vehicle and carry out basic checks such as; regularly checking tyre pressures and tread depths, looking out for brake wear and ensuring that all lights are working.

WALKING AND CYCLING

Think about walking or cycling for all or part of your journey, if you can. Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network and can be a quicker means of travel.

WALKING

When planning your walking journey, make sure you allow enough time and wear appropriate footwear for the distance that you are walking.

When walking, practise social distancing and continue to stay alert for vehicles.

There are several steps which can be taken to remain safe when on foot:

  • Help visibility by wearing bright or contrasting clothing by day and wear something reflective at night.
  • Pay attention to surroundings and don’t be distracted by mobile phones or headphones.
  • Always check the road is clear before stepping off the pavement to cross to the other side or to social distance from other people.
  • If there is no footpath, walk on the right-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic and keep as close as possible to the side of the road.

Cycling is a quick and easy way to travel and the introduction of e-bikes can make longer distances and cycling to school and work more attractive.

If you don’t have your own bike, there may be a local cycling scheme you can use.

If you are using a shared bike (whether public or privately-hired), wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Where possible, try to keep social distancing when you cycle, for example when approaching or passing pedestrians or waiting at crossings and traffic lights. Continue to stay alert for other vehicles using the road.

Be aware of pedestrians even though they may be walking safely on a footpath. They may change direction for reasons not immediately apparent, perhaps suddenly stepping off the footpath into traffic to allow a safe social distance.

TRAVELLING BY CAR

We all have a personal responsibility to take care and drive in a way that keeps both ourselves and others safe as we share the road.

Before travelling, it is important that you plan your journey and check the latest travel advice. Some areas may have made changes to enable social distancing on pavements and cycle routes.

You should:

  • Expect more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day.
  • Allow other road users to maintain social distance, where possible (for example, give cyclists space at traffic lights).
  • Give pedestrians time to cross the road and watch out for people stepping off the pavement suddenly onto the road for social distancing from others.
  • Be aware of passengers getting off public transport, especially on rural routes.
  • You should wash or sanitise your hands before your journey and, if you are the driver, you should encourage passengers to do likewise.
  • Be aware of the surfaces within your vehicle that you or others touch. If the vehicle is your responsibility, you should regularly clean areas such as the steering wheel and door handles.
  • Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • You may wish to wear a face covering to protect others.
  • Where possible, think about seating arrangements to best increase distance between people in the vehicle.
  • You should limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. You should keep a two-metre distance from others and pay by contactless methods, if possible.
  • When passing cyclists, give as much room as you would when passing a car – a minimum of one-and-a-half metres.
  • Give people cycling plenty of time and space. They may be new to cycling or returning to cycling and may be unsteady or lack confidence on the road.

REMEMBER TO CATCH IT: BIN IT: KILL IT

Catch bin it kill it