64 per cent of DVSA roadside van inspections result in prohibitions being issued for safety defects

  • The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is on track to issue 6,800 prohibitions to van owners in the year to April 2024
  • Mechanical defects such as the condition of their tyres, faulty indicators, bodywork issues and overloading are the most common reasons for prohibitions being issued.


Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of checks carried out on light goods vehicles by DVSA inspectors identified serious safety defects resulting in prohibitions, according to research conducted by Direct Line Business Insurance. The DVSA is on track to issue van owners with over 6,800 prohibitions this financial year.

Prohibitions typically refer to restrictions placed on vans or commercial vehicles due to safety concerns. These can include issues related to the vehicle's roadworthiness, such as defects in brakes, tyres, lights, steering, and other critical components. The DVSA may issue a prohibition if they find that a vehicle poses a danger to road users. Mechanical defects and overloading issues make up the majority of prohibitions issued.

2023/2024 YTD reasons for light goods vehicle prohibitions issued off the back of roadside checks

Prohibition Type

Proportion of Prohibitions


55 per cent


40 per cent

Offence Prohibitions

5 per cent

Driver Hours

>1 per cent

Hazard Materials & Chemical

0 per cent

Source: Direct Line Business Insurance

When it comes to specific mechanical defects, the most common reason for a prohibition is the condition of the tyres (46 per cent) followed by faulty indicator(s) (26 per cent) and bodywork issues (19 per cent). Two in five (40 per cent) prohibitions were issued for overloaded vans. Overloading can be dangerous as it can impact on the driving performance, lead to increased stopping distances, difficulty in steering and make the vehicle more likely to tip over. It will also cause excessive wear and tear to the van affecting tyres, suspension, and brakes.

Prohibitions can lead to enforced time off the road. The DVSA has the power to issue immediate or delayed prohibitions, depending on how dangerous the vehicle fault is. An immediate prohibition is issued when a defect is considered so serious that the vehicle is prohibited from being driven straight away. The vehicle must be fixed on the spot or towed away. A delayed prohibition allows the operator to continue to drive the vehicle but the defect needs to be fixed within 10 days or less depending on how critical the issue is. Once repaired, the vehicle will need to be reinspected to have the prohibition lifted before it can be used on the road again.

The DVSA can also issue Fixed Penalty Notices of up to £300 and van drivers could face three points on their driving licence, depending on the severity of the offence. The inspectors may also visit van operators’ premises and review maintenance records.

Eva Sandstra-Bennett, Van Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance commented:

“There are almost 4.5 million3 vans on Great Britain’s roads, travelling 92.6 billion kilometres4 a year. Average van age has been creeping up and now sits at almost nine years3 so it’s important operators carry out regular maintenance to ensure their vans stay roadworthy and reliable. The most common reasons for prohibitions such as worn and damaged tyres, broken indicators, or lights and lose bodywork are easily spotted and relatively quick to fix. Overloading a van is tempting to often reduce the time a job may take when transporting materials or equipment, but it is an unnecessary risk that can put lives at risk and also damage the vehicle. If an accident is caused by the failure to keep your van roadworthy, it could also invalidate your insurance.

“It's important for van operators and drivers to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles to ensure they meet safety and compliance standards. Regular vehicle checks, proper record-keeping, and adherence to regulations can help prevent the DVSA or Police issuing you with a prohibition and help keep everyone on our roads safe.”

For more information on van insurance please visit: https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/van-insurance




Notes to Editors

1. Data supplied by the DVSA is response to a Freedom of Information request from Direct Line business insurance.

2 Tradespeople lose almost £1,500 a week if they are unable to use their van

3 Number of vans on British roads at all-time high

4 Road traffic statistics (TRA)


Direct Line Group 

Unni Henry 

PR Manager

Email: [email protected] 

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk.