MoTs – to test annually or not to test?

Dated:

That is the question being asked by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and other motoring experts about whether or not the annual MoT should be scrapped and made bi-annual for older cars and have even more of a time gap for newer cars.

The annual MoT was first introduced in 1967, and Mr. Hammond argues that advances in technology and car safety mean that it could be reasonable to extend the time between the roadworthiness tests for new cars, from three years to four. He would also like to see the tests for older cars carried out every other year.

MOT Tests and the Law

This is being cloaked as a way to save drivers money as fuel prices hit a record high.

But many are concerned that the cost saving won’t outweigh the safety implications.

Research has shown that changes to the MOT test schedule could lead to a rise in road deaths, with 3% of accidents on British roads already attributed to vehicle defects. The researchers also claim that switching from a first test after four years then every two years for new cars could lead to an additional 16 to 30 deaths every year.

And older cars are more likely to have faults if the annual MoT becomes bi-annual. The consumer champion Which? believes that extending the time between MoT tests will mean more unroadworthy cars on our roads than ever before, with serious safety implications.

David Evans, Senior Motoring Research at Which?, said: "Increasing the period between MoTs is unwise and will, in my view, lead to poorer safety on UK roads."

"We know from our research that many owners neglect their cars as it is. For example, fewer than half those questioned in our last tyre survey knew the legal minimum tread depth, and more than a quarter relied on the garage to check tyre condition and tread depth at the annual MoT and service."

"And there are also many less visible parts of the car that could go unchecked."

AA President Edmund King has also spoken out about the proposed changes, saying: "Even if you have a new car that is three years old, it can still have bald tyres and failing lights".

"We have surveyed 60,000 drivers and most of them think we should stick with the current regime. Rather than being a burden on the driver, we think it’s a good safety reminder for once a year."

But Mr. Hammond said: "Car technology has come a long way since the 1960s when the MOT regime was introduced. That’s why we think it’s right to check whether we still have the right balance of MoT testing for modern vehicles."

Such changes to the MoT schedule could also sound the death knell for independent garages which rely on the income from annual MoT testing. It’s feared that many could go out of business if the MoT changes are introduced.

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