Car buyers can take unaccompanied test drives when lockdown lifts, DVLA confirms

Car buyers will be allowed to take unaccompanied test drives of a vehicle wearing a dealer’s trade plates when lockdown measures are lifted, the DVLA has confirmed.

It means that those who are interested in buying a new car will be able to take it for a test drive without the need for a dealer or sales representative to be present if the vehicle is wearing trade plates.

Trade plates allow those working in the motor industry to drive a vehicle they are in temporary possession of without the need to tax or register them first. It gives dealers more flexibility to move stock and save time.

Traditionally, dealers were required to accompany a person test driving a car while on trade plates. But concerns were raised about conducting these tests once lockdown measures are eased, with social distancing difficult – or impossible – to maintain with two people in a vehicle.

However, the Independent Motor Dealers Association has now received official confirmation from the DVLA stating that buyers can test drive these vehicles alone.

A spokesperson for the DVLA said: “We have received an update from colleagues in service management and policy and they have confirmed that a prospective purchaser may test drive a vehicle on trade plates, without the trader licence holder being present.

“Trade plates are the property of the Secretary of State and motor traders should take all precautions to ensure that trade plates are not stolen.”

The news was also confirmed via a spokesperson telling Car Dealer Magazine: “I can confirm that the email has come from DVLA and is factually correct.”

Umesh Samani, chairman of the IMDA, said: “DVLA guidelines for trade plate use has always been that a motor dealer or their employee must be present while using trade plates.

“Dealers sending customers out on their own before this might not have realised that they were breaking the rules.

“This does open up the question of insurance, though, as not all dealer’s insurance policies cover unaccompanied test drives.”