New decree on heavy duty vehicle inspections

The Decree assigning MOT inspections of heavy-duty vehicles to private individuals, announced by the managers of DG MOT at the recent Mission Restart conference in September at the Imola racetrack (see Pneurama n.5, Autoattrezzati) was published in the Official Gazette on November 23rd; we are talking about the Decree dated November 15, 2021, which says "Update of the discipline related to heavy duty vehicles inspections".

The Decree was published even earlier than anticipated, but unfortunately the issues are far from over and above all, although it provides an operational solution to the problem, it leaves open doubts and perplexities. Let us examine this step by step; the Decree defines a new regime of heavy-duty vehicle inspections through a five-year authorization pursuant to art. 80 of the Highway Code, issued to private inspection centres adequately structured and equipped as described in the Decree itself. The requirements of these inspection centres, however, contain a number of critical and unnecessary burdens that frankly could have been avoided. For example, the structural and equipment requirements, such as the minimum size of the facility, are in some ways exaggerated or unclear. But the most striking thing is that even these inspection centres are required to be certified according to ISO IEC 17020. What is the point of such a request when the person responsible for the inspection carried out at the centre, i.e., the inspector, is not part of the centre itself but is independent from it to the point that he cannot and must not have a subordinate working relationship with it? In fact, the inspector, i.e. the one who must "personally attend and certify all the phases of the inspections they are responsible for", is a professional qualified by the territorial General Directorate, enrolled in the appropriate national register and he is rightly in possession of ISO 17020 certification as a guarantee of impartiality in perfect compliance with the Directive. So why ISO 17020 certification also for the inspection centre? The fact that the inspector and the centre, both independent and responsible for their own organization, cannot coordinate directly with each other, but only through the territorial supervisory body "also through automotive consulting firms", is also peculiar to say the least.

Two qualified and independent activities, dependent on the management by third parties? Apart from the play on words, it is difficult to understand the reasoning behind it. Even more peculiar is the explicit specification that an inspector working in a car review centre cannot do the same on trucks in the same centre, even if both are qualified, but must necessarily carry out this activity, if he so wishes, at a different centre. Why? A different case must be made for centres operating under Law 870. The November 15, 2021, Decree does not expressly mention them except when it says "previous authorizations" which do not lose their validity. It is worth remembering that with the previous Circular letter dated September 13, 2021, the Department for Sustainable Mobility dictated the updates in structure and equipment to which these centres will have to adapt according to a multi-year program confirming their future involvement. But are we talking only about existing centres or also about future new centres ex-law 870? At the end of the day, no one has abolished this law and there is no reason why new 870 centres cannot be activated. But this raises two additional questions; the first is: what should a new 870 centre refer to in terms of structure and equipment? And the second is: will the inspectors working in both existing and new 870 centres always be only MOT inspectors in force or on leave, or will the "new" inspectors registered in the single national register be able to work in the 870 centres as well?

Frankly, given the good organization and the great work done by the MOT General Directorate, we expected a less problematic decree; it seems almost as if, once the technical evaluation came to a conclusion, along the way the decree ran into "specific" interests. We will see if private operators will find the situation arising from the Decree interesting and, therefore, if privatizing heavy duty vehicle inspections, something desired by the legislator, will be successful; also, because this is based not on a whim, but on the need for road safety, something sorely lacking nowadays.