The Department for Transport has announced the launch of a public consultation over changes to the MOT including proposals to move to a 4-1-1 system.
The new MOT consultation is seeking views on making amendments to the test for cars, motorbikes and vans to ensure roadworthiness checks continue to balance costs on motorists. The Government also believes changes will help keep up with advances in vehicle technologies and tackle the issue of vehicle emissions.
The chance of an MOT consultation has been expected ever since former Transport Minister Grant Shapps suggested moving to a 3-2-2 pattern to help drivers during the cost of living crisis. The government believes that moving to a 4-1-1 system could save motorists around £100 million a year in MOT fees. However, the same idea was shelved in 2018 following another MOT consultation.
The news has been met cautiously by aftermarket industry bodies, which agree that more needs to be done to test technology, but not at the expense of road safety, especially considering the extension of the first test.
Changing the MOT for technology’s sake
The MOT consultation also seeks views on how to improve monitoring of emissions to tackle pollution to bolster the environmental efficiency of vehicles.
Potential new measures include introducing testing of pollutants such as particulate number (PN) and NOx to ensure diesel, petrol and hybrid cars always meet emissions requirements throughout their lifespan.
Among the proposals, the MOT consultation will consider whether electric vehicles’ batteries should be tested to improve the safety and reliability of EVs, if additional measures should be introduced to tackle excessively loud engines, and how the DVSA can continue to crack down against MOT and mileage fraud.
The MOT was introduced in the UK in 1960, and the government argues that since then, vehicles have undergone a great technical change, with more electronic components and systems being added to aid safety. These systems should be tested to ensure they remain able to help drivers where needed.
MOT consultation again for 4-1-1
While changes to procedures may be welcomed to help improve vehicle roadworthiness and road safety, It appears this government has not learned from the MOT consultation held in 2017, which saw an overwhelming response in favour of keeping the current 3-1-1 mandate.
“Data shows that most new vehicles pass the first MOT test at three years,” the government said in its release. “With the number of casualties in car collisions due to vehicle defects remaining low, government analysis shows the change from three to four years for the first MOT should not impact road safety.
“Undertaking roadworthiness testing four years since the vehicle’s registration is already standard practice across many European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.”
However, the UK has some of the safest roads in Europe, due in part to the earlier MOT checks carried out on vehicles. The changes would also include vans, which conduct a larger number of high-mileage journeys in their first three years on the roads.
Industry reacts to new MOT consultation
The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has said it will be carrying out a full impact assessment of the proposed changes and will be consulting with its members and the wider industry to ensure that full, robust and representative feedback is provided in response.
“The MOT has been in the government’s spotlight for some time and the IGA were expecting a review of this type, however the far-reaching nature of the MOT consultation announced this morning goes deeper and wider than anticipated,” commented Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive. “A common-sense approach to the consultation will be needed, with road safety being of paramount importance above gaining votes in the next election.
“Vehicles are becoming more complex, and the environmental impact of road transport plays an ever-increasing role in the UK government’s commitment to net-zero. While the number of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles on the road relates to less than 2.5% of all vehicles on the road, it is inevitable that the MOT will need to adapt to provide a 21st-century solution to these challenges.
“The MOT plays a vital part in keeping the UK’s roads amongst the safest in the world, and the IGA will work closely with the government to safeguard this record and ensure a fair, viable and safe future for the MOT system which protects all road users.”
Hayley Pells, Policy Manager at the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) added: “The advances seen in automotive technology and systems, for improved performance and safety as well as reduced environmental impact, mean the current MOT model is well overdue for review and the IMI welcomes the announcement of this public MOT consultation today. Although never a substitute for the recommended maintenance and repairs that motorists are responsible for to maintain roadworthiness, the current MOT test could be improved and new methods explored that better fit the current car parc, and the automotive technology of the future.
“For example, autonomous emergency braking is now more widely adopted and it is critical that motorists have the confidence that these systems are working correctly.
“The question of MOT testing frequency is also part of the MOT consultation; an important issue that has dominated conversation about testing for some time. What is important to ensure is that a focus on cost-saving does not put road users at heightened risk.
“The IMI will be actively engaging with its members who represent the highest standards of skills, and presenting these findings along with considered opinion of the impact of change within the sector.”
Meanwhile, the RAC has stated: “While we are 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 take into account how much a vehicle is driven, alongside the number of years it’s been on the road.
“We are 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.”
To take part in the latest MOT consultation, follow this link. Deadline for responses is 28th February 2023.