The Department for Transport has today (Wednesday 18 January) launched a public consultation on the future of MOTs in Great Britain.
Views are being sought to update MOT testing for cars, motorbikes and vans to ensure roadworthiness checks continue to balance costs on motorists while ensuring road safety, keeping up with advances in vehicle technology, and tackling vehicle emissions.
To ensure MOTs remain fit for the future, the consultation launched today is seeking views on proposals to change the date at which the first MOT for new light vehicles is required from 3 to 4 years. The average MOT costs £40 and the move could save motorists across Great Britain around £100 million a year in MOT fees.
Since the MOT was introduced in 1960 – and especially in recent years – there have been major developments in vehicle technology such as lane-assisted driving which have increased road safety, while the spread of electric and hybrid cars is rapidly changing the nature of vehicles on our roads.
Any changes to the MOT will be supported by an information campaign led by the Department for Transport and the DVSA to inform drivers of the updates to MOTs and remind them of their responsibility to keep vehicles roadworthy.
Ensuring that the UK maintains its world-class record on road safety is at the heart of the proposals. Data shows that most new vehicles pass the first MOT test at three years. With the number of casualties in car collisions due to vehicle defects remaining low, Government analysis shows the change from 3 to 4 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.
The consultation also seeks views on the frequency of MOTs and 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 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 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can continue to crack down against MOT and mileage fraud.
Edmund King, AA president, 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.”
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, 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 take into account how much a vehicle is driven, alongside the number of years it’s been on the road.”
The consultation also seeks views on the frequency of MOTs – a move that has elicited a far stronger reaction from the RAC. Nicolas Lyes added: “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.”
Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents car and commercial retailers across the UK commented: “The primary aspect to consider when proposing changes to the MOT system is the safety of motorists as a result of vehicle defects. With advancements in technology and testing, cars and commercials are increasingly becoming safer off the production line, particularly with components such as autonomous emergency braking systems becoming more widely adopted. It is critical that the MOT system evolves and adapts in tandem with the rapidly developing technology used in automotive vehicles today.
“Nevertheless, NFDA is concerned that these changes to the system may not be beneficial for motorists or MOT testing centres, particularly for franchised dealers, to justify the changes and we will be conducting a thorough investigation into the implications these changes may have. Franchise dealers will continue to ensure motorists on UK roads are as safe as possible through robust, professionally executed and frequent MOT testing regimes. NFDA will be responding to the consultation in due course, as well as keeping correspondence with the relevant government bodies to ensure future MOTs are conducted in a safe and fair manner.”
* Proposed changes to make MOTs fit for the future – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
** AA Yonder Driver Poll, May 2022. 13,062 respondents.
*** First MOT test to remain at 3 years to protect road safety – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)