Major MOT shake-up proposed

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Published: 30 January 2023
Categories: News Article

Major MOT shake-up proposed in new government consultation

A new consultation recommending major changes to the annual MOT for cars, motorbikes and vans has launched today from the Government.

Published jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), it seeks views on changing the date of the first MOT from three years to four years and on altering the frequency of the test to make it “fit for the future”.

The Government said the updates could “ensure roadworthiness checks continue to balance costs on motorists while ensuring road safety, keeping up with advances in vehicle technology, and tackling vehicle emissions”.

It’s promoting the money-saving benefits of delaying the first MOT – the average test costs £40 and extending the requirement to four years could save motorists across Great Britain around £100m a year in MOT fees.

The Government is also seeking views on the frequency of MOTs and how to improve monitoring of emissions to tackle pollution. 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.

The consultation also invites views on 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 first introduced in 1960 and the new proposals follow advances to vehicle technology and the growing popularity of hybrids and EVs, which are “rapidly changing the nature of vehicles on our roads”.

MOT shake-up
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The DfT and DVSA added that any changes would be backed by a joint information campaign to inform drivers of the updates and remind them of their responsibility to keep vehicles roadworthy.

And they highlighted that the four-year cycle for roadworthiness tests following the vehicle’s registration is already standard practice across many European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

It’s not the first time the Government has proposed changes to the MOT. A consultation on switching to a four-year cycle was run in 2017 and found the vast majority of respondents were opposed, forcing the plans to be scrapped.

The subject was picked up again in 2022, with discussions among MPs about switching to a two-year cycle for the annual test to help drivers tackle the cost-of-living crisis but without cost to the Government – these plans were again met with concern and alarm from across the fleet and auto sector, which said any cost savings to drivers would be minimal while there would be threats to road safety and even vehicle emissions.

Vehicle safety still main reason for opposing moves

The consultation launched today has already been slammed by the AA, which said it was total opposed to any change from an annual MOT and added that testing plays a vital role in ensuring that vehicles on our roads are safe and well-maintained.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “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 such as tyres and brakes can often be deficient after three years.”

But King added that there were aspects of the new consultation that the AA supported, 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,” he continued.

And the RAC has said that it’s not opposed to delaying a new vehicle’s first MOT, but believes there should be a requirement for particularly high-mileage vehicles to be tested sooner.

Head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “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.”

However, Lyes added that the organisation was 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.”

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has also commented, saying it will carry out a full impact assessment of the proposed changes, including consulting with members and the wider industry.

Stuart James, chief executive, added: “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 consultation announced this morning goes deeper and wider than anticipated. 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 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.”

To access the Government’s consultation, click here. Closing date for comments is 11:59pm on 28 February 2023.

Written by Natalie Middleton for Fleet World © Friday, January 27, 2023.

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