Proposed MOT changes: drivers reject idea to change first test

MOT changes

The annual MOT enables technicians to perform vital road safety checks

Drivers have come out against a government proposal for MOT changes. Ministers are considering switching a car’s first MOT from three-years old to four. But experts say this could mean up to 500,000 more dangerous cars on the road. And in a survey for industry body the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), three quarters of car owners (76 per cent) snubbed the idea of delaying a car’s first MOT.

Why is government proposing MOT changes?

The government argues that delaying a car’s first MOT would bring us in line with France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. It says the move would save drivers £100 million a year, an average of £45 over each car’s lifetime. The government claims it’s reasonable to shift the MOT because modern vehicles have become more resilient to wear and tear.

Why drivers are against the idea

When the SMMT polled drivers, it found that 83 per cent think the test is worthwhile because it brings peace of mind. More than two thirds (68 per cent) said they were concerned that delaying the MOT test by a year could put them and other road users in danger.

Why motor experts are against the idea

According to government figures, nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of cars fail their first MOT. The SMMT argues that postponing the MOT test for a year could see half a million more unroadworthy cars driving around. The government last did a consultation on moving the first test from year three of a car’s life to year four in 2008. Then, the Department for Transport estimated it could lead to 71 additional road deaths per year.

According to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) which administers the MOT test, cars at three years old fail the test for a variety of reasons. In 2015, the top five included faulty lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment (143,413 cars), tyres (85,720), driver’s view of the road (73,883), brakes (47,138) and suspension (24,628). Every year 22,700 test centres conduct approximately 29m MOT tests.

The expert’s viewpoint

Mike Hawes is chief executive of the SMMT which commissioned the study of driver attitudes. He said: “Extending the first test for cars from three to four years is not what consumers or industry want given the serious risk posed to road safety and vehicles’ environmental performance. The latest vehicles are equipped with advanced safety systems. But it is still critical that wear and tear items such as tyres and brakes are checked regularly and replaced. We urge government to scrap its plans to change a test system that has played a vital role in making the UK’s roads among the safest in the world.”

What is the MOT

The MOT test was devised in 1960 as a means of ensuring ever more complex cars are in a fit and roadworthy state. Initially it only applied to vehicles that were 10 years or older. But in 1967 it was applied to cars that were three years or older. Once cars reach three years, they must pass the MOT test every year. The official price of the MOT is £54.85. However, many garages offer it for less as a way of attracting customers. The DVSA estimates that £45 is the average MOT cost across the UK.

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