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Industry calls for MOT extension to end

The aftermarket industry is calling on the UK Government to end its MOT extension, warning that thousands of unsafe vehicles will take to the roads as lockdown restrictions ease.

The extension was put in place to ease concerns of drivers that their vehicles would be illegal to use during the coronavirus lockdown imposed on March 23rd. Some were concerned that they would not be able to leave their house and travel to a garage in that time, while others were concerned that they would not be able to follow social distancing procedures. 

Yet with the country returning to work, there is a growing argument for the extension to end. As well as the safety aspect, the move may also heap pressure on garages in October and November as they cope with double the amount of vehicles requiring a test – while April and May next year could become a dead zone with few MOTs taking place.

Government calls for workers to avoid public transport, and instead rely on their vehicles, will only add to the problem of unsafe cars taking to the roads.

Essential requirement

In various communications with DVSA and Department for Transport, IAAF chief executive, Wendy Williamson said the decision to extend the MOT “will inevitably have a serious impact on road safety as road worthiness can alter greatly during this period. There is also the obvious concern that due to this postponement there could be thousands of vehicles on the road that are dangerous and unroadworthy.” 

Williamson has also written to the NI Assembly challenging the Northern Ireland infrastructure minister’s decision to extend MOT’s there for twelve months.

“Use of private vehicles, where there is no fear of direct infection from other members of the community, is increasingly the preferred option,” said Williamson. “There is more need than ever to keep cars on the road. Therefore, the MOT is an essential requirement to keep vehicles on the move.”

Previously, the IAAF has said the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) decision to extend MOTs for a six-month period causes “huge challenges” for the sector, arguing that the industry needs to ensure vehicles continue to be kept safe in these challenging times.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, urging him to end the six-month MOT extension put in place on 30 March 2020.

Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive states: “Now that the public are being encouraged to go back to work and avoid using public transport where possible, the time is right to stop the MOT extension.

“With approximately one third of cars failing their initial MOT, millions of faults will be left unrectified if the full six-month extension goes ahead. Small defects that would have been found in the MOT test will worsen, not only leading to an increase in the number of dangerous cars on the road, but an increase in future repair costs for vehicle owners too. 

“Leaving vehicles unchecked also puts motorists at risk of prosecution for driving an unsafe vehicle when it has been exempted from MOT testing. For example, 580,000 vehicles will have illegal tyres today, which will rise by another 290,000 by the end of the MOT extension. These drivers face a fine of up to £2,500 for each tyre and three penalty points. This is a simple defect which could have been easily rectified if an inspection was carried out, but could now cost the driver dearly and put themselves and others at risk. 

“Stopping the MOT extension without delay will ensure that many more cars are roadworthy, and another major step will be taken in helping the UK economy recover.”

Worrying numbers

New research by Kwik Fit has revealed that almost 1.1 million unroadworthy vehicles are set to return to the UK’s streets as the lockdown begins to ease and people increasingly take to their cars1.

The garage chain has analysed the latest DVSA MOT data, along with its own statistics. Taken together they show that an estimated 1,096,000 vehicles which have received a six-month MOT extension would have failed a test with dangerous or major defects had they undergone an MOT. Of these unroadworthy vehicles, it is estimated that some 316,000 would have dangerous defects, while the remaining 780,000 vehicles would fail with major defects.

Even more concerning is the finding that many drivers will be knowingly driving an unsafe car. 8% of those who will wait for the end of the extension to get their car tested, some 1.1 million drivers, said they will do so as they believe there is something wrong with their car and don’t want to risk it failing.  One in five drivers waiting to the end of the extension say they are doing so to save money, an understandable reason in the current circumstances, but one which risks putting finances before safety.

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