MoT frequencies to increase?
Although the first Conservative Budget in almost two decades was some time ago, the potential idea of increasing the first MoT Test frequency, from three years to four, is still being digested.
The safety risk
While several reasons have been provided for justifying the investigation, such as slashing motoring costs, while new cars tend to be better made than older ones (although both of those statements are arbitrary), MoT Test failure data indicates that doing so could result in an increase in defective vehicles prowling our streets.
In 2012, VOSA (as the DVSA was then called) revealed that one in five vehicles failed their first MoT Test, with the most common reasons attributed to lighting, tyres, windscreens and mirrors. The total of three years-old cars that were declared unsafe, between October 2010 and October 2011, amounted to 352,000 examples.
Earlier this year, it was uncovered that 50% of Light Commercial Vehicles, weighing between 3.0 and 3.5 tonnes, failed their first Class 7 Test.
While road deaths that are caused by a mechanical failure are numerically low, not only would it be unwise to try and tempt the figure to rise but driving an un-roadworthy vehicle also presents both insurance and legal implications.
Tyre Safe’s chairman, Stuart Jackson, commented:
“In recent years, there have been various proposals on changing the timing and regularity of the MOT test, which have all been rejected on the grounds of their negative impact on road safety. While cars and motorbikes are more reliable than ever before, there are safety critical components, which require regular maintenance and replacement. Evidence shows that millions of Britain’s motorists neither check nor maintain these parts and only replace them when required to do so, in order to pass the MoT Test.”
Yet, the fleet sector is divided on the subject. While epyx and GE Capital UK have voiced support for the proposition, because it reduces both hassle and cost to the fleet sectors, other organisations, including the RMI, Warranty Direct and Chevin Fleet Solutions have stated that they are worried about the implications not only for road safety but also in corporate risk assessments.
Is there something more at play?
Expending the first MoT frequency could be the first political move to align our safety check with those of other European countries. This could include inspections for not only condition but also Type-Approval compliance to permeate further into the MoT Test. However, laws exist already, regarding illegal modifications that cover items that do not fall into the MoT’s remit (such as over-loud aftermarket exhaust systems and the disabling of anti-pollution equipment) but those laws are not being enforced adequately (if at all) by the authorities. Lumping the responsibility onto MoT inspectors is not the answer.
While some onlookers want strict compliance enforcement to be brought into the MoT Test, it will place a huge strain not only on individual testing stations but also the DVSA. It is almost certain to demand more training, investment in expensive machinery and an increase in MoT Test inspection times, all at a financial cost that must be met by the car owner. Furthermore, the safety implications of following certain European countries’ roadworthiness inspections, which are performed once every two years for older cars, would be a serious retrograde step.