MOT consultation reactions continue: “An idea that should be dismissed out of hand”

Published:  19 January, 2023

The automotive sector has continued to react to the MOT Consultation, with a range of views being expressed. SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “Although today’s vehicles are safer and more reliable than ever, safety critical components such as brakes and tyres continue to wear through normal use and lead to millions of MOT failures every year, including at the current first test at year three. Stretching MOT intervals will shrink the safety net and jeopardise the UK’s record of having some of the safest roads in the world in exchange for a small saving, which could actually cost consumers more in the long run as complex faults can develop over time. SMMT and its members welcome the opportunity to work with government on the best way to improve the MOT in line with developing vehicle technology and other changes including ownership patterns.”

AA President Edmund King said: "The MOT plays a vital role in ensuring that vehicles on our roads are safe and well maintained, and while not a formal recommendation, we totally oppose any change from an annual MOT. Last year, 83% of drivers said that the annual MOT was ‘very important’ for keeping our cars and roads as safe as possible, which highlights why an annual MOT must remain in place. With one in 10 cars failing their first MOT, we strongly discourage the government from extending a car's first MOT to the fourth anniversary due to road safety concerns.

“When this proposal was last considered in 2017-18, the four-year policy did not obtain public support - with many citing concerns over vehicle safety as the main reason for opposing the move. We do not believe this to have changed over time. Safety items like tyres and brakes can often be deficient after three years. However, there are aspects of this consultation which we support, such as ensuring the MOT is fit for purpose for the new technology in vehicles. Making sure MOT testers check and test advanced safety features and autonomous systems are important as the nation’s car parc evolves.”

RAC Head of Roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While we’re not opposed to delaying a new vehicle’s first MOT, we believe there should be a requirement for particularly high mileage vehicles to be tested sooner. If the government is looking to improve the MOT, now is the ideal time to consider how much a vehicle is driven, alongside the number of years it’s been on the road.

“We’re also disappointed the government is still entertaining the idea of increasing the time between MOTs. Our research clearly shows drivers don’t agree with this and believe it’s dangerous. It would also likely increase the number of unroadworthy vehicles on our roads – putting lives at risk – and not save drivers any money as they would likely end up with bigger repair bills as a result. Given the technological advances of driving aids in cars and the increasing adoption of electric vehicles, there is an argument that suggests the MOT will need to adapt accordingly in the future. Certainly, moves to check for faulty or removed diesel particulate filters will improve air quality by targeting dirty vehicles.”

Peter Golding, Managing Director at fleet software and management providers FleetCheck said: “The mooted idea to move to four years for MOTs is madness for road safety. As someone who managed workshops for many years before moving into fleet, I can attest that plenty of three year old cars that pass through garages have mechanical and electrical problems that severely compromise safety.

“There is a vague justification on the Government’s consultation page that ADAS devices and the arrival of EVs are helping to make three year MOTs unnecessary. This is high nonsense. ADAS and EVs don’t reduce wear on most major components, and there is even a strong argument that the much higher weight of the latter could increase the impact on wheels, brakes and the suspension.

“Even with current vehicle shortages, most fleets still aim to replace company cars at three years and vans around four. With annual mileage reaching up to 30,000 miles or more, this means that some vehicles being operated by businesses might not receive an independent safety inspection until they have covered in the region of 100,000 miles. This is an idea that should be dismissed out of hand.”

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