The UK Government has decided against changing the first MOT date of new vehicles to four years after sale, following the outcome of a public consultation.
Announced in the Budget of 2015, the move would have seen the current first MOT date of three years after registration pushed back by a further year. The announcement caused consternation within the aftermarket, with motoring bodies the RMI, GEA and IAAF amongst others reforming the Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) and launching the proMOTe campaign.
The government has now published its response, in which it states that following comments from the sector and public, it will be abandoning its plans and instead keep the status quo.
According to the document, a clear majority of responses favoured no change from the three options presented. Of those not working within the automotive industry, only 43% backed change.
The government also noted a broad consensus between private individuals and vehicle maintenance professionals on some issues, in particular regarding the potential impact of the proposed changes on road safety. Concerns were noted that potentially unsafe vehicles could remain on road for another year without examination.
The worry was that some vehicles, especially those used for business, already achieve high mileage in their first three years of use. Extending the MOT period by a further year would take these vehicles into dangerous territory, especially when many owners fail to check crucial systems such as brakes and tyres.
The document also states that many respondents believed that paying for an MOT one year earlier was a small price to pay for road safety. Moreover, a three-year MOT may give the vehicle owner forewarning of upcoming expenditure, particularly on tyres and brakes. This was in opposition to previous beliefs that motorists would welcome the change in financial terms, especially as it was announced following the revelation that vehicle excise duty (VED) rates would increase.
The consultation response highlights that 444 people believed the date of the test should be moved from three to four years, with 1,251 saying it should not change. 69% of these stated that the date should remain on safety grounds, with 23% citing concern about owners not maintaining their vehicles.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman comments: “After careful consideration, I have decided not to proceed with the changes proposed to the timing of the first MOT test. Great Britain has a comprehensive testing system for vehicles, which makes an important contribution to road safety. The changes proposed had potential for both benefits and risks, and after due consideration I do not consider it right to take them forward at this time. This is in the light of the views expressed, the age of some of the evidence base and the potential wider issues associated with testing.”
IAAF Chief Executive Wendy Williamson said: “It is an understatement to say that we are delighted that these plans have now been scrapped, which comes as a result of all the hard efforts of IAAF as well as the whole of the industry. From the outset, we’ve vigorously fought these proposals, which threatened not just the aftermarket but more crucially, motorists’ safety.
“To ensure as safe and cost-effective motoring as possible, motorists must have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly. Given that figures suggest one in five vehicles fail their MOT in the first three years, moving to an extended testing period would have potentially caused more accidents and fatalities due to defective vehicles on UK roads.”
Speaking to Auto Repair Focus, Stuart James, Director of the RMI, adds: “Common sense has prevailed. We are delighted and very grateful that the government has listened to the industry, to the experts and they acted in the only way that I feel is appropriate. They’ve made the right decision and we are very supportive of that.
“Another positive of this situation is how the challenge allowed the AALG to come out in a very public way and say we are united. It has strengthened the AALG, and the bonds between the bodies within. I believe that strength of unity will continue and any challenges that come before us as time roles on will benefit from that strength.”
Earlier in the week, the government agency, the DVSA, published a draft of its new handbook for MOTs taking place after the 20th May, with a number of changes for gauges to be aware of.