The period before a new car’s first MOT is needed could change from three years, to four years in 2018 after a government consultation on the proposals.
Currently, a car must have its first MOT test after three years. The government is considering extending this to four years, arguing that modern vehicles are having fewer accidents and breakdowns and staying roadworthy for longer. It claims that this would benefit motorists by saving them time and money. However, many automotive industry bodies have presented valid arguments against the government’s proposals.
It’s proving a divisive issue for the industry. On the one hand, the proposals seem popular with drivers. An AA poll of over 19,000 drivers found 44% were in favour of MOTs after four years and 26% opposed, with a third not having a view either way. Yet there are many claims that the changes would ultimately cost motorists more in repairs and be detrimental to road safety.
One argument here is that there would be more unroadworthy vehicles on the road. Current figures show that there are plenty of three year old cars failing their first MOT for issues such as brakes, tyres and lamps. So, with the proposed extension, that’s potentially another year that these vehicles would be out on the roads unchecked.
These first time MOT failures may be in part due to the fact that many drivers now rely heavily on dashboard warning lights, rather than regular safety checks alert them to vehicle faults. And there’s evidence to suggest drivers put off some important vehicle checks until their MOT is due. Recently, Tyresafe, in partnership with Highways England, found that millions of motorists only replace tyres when required in order to pass the MOT.
Clearly a balance needs to be found between driver savings and safety. Undoubtedly new vehicles have come a long way and feature some impressive technology to keep drivers safe. However, with a whole extra year before an official check-up, would issues like worn tyres and poorly adjusted headlights go on to cause bigger road safety problems? There’s a lot to think about, you can find out more about the proposals and how to get involved in the consultation process on the Department for Transport website.