It has been widely reported that the Government is once again considering the possibility of changing the time at which vehicles become due an MOT test in the UK. The latest proposal is that a vehicle is not to undergo a first test until it is four years old, rather than three years under the current scheme. The current scheme is generally referred to as the 3-1-1 scheme because vehicles must be first tested at 3 years old and then every year after that. The new scheme has now become known as 4-1-1. Some years ago the Government considered a 4-2-2 scheme where vehicles would not need to be presented for a test until they were four years old and then only re-tested every two years. Under the 4-2-2 MOT regime it was estimated car and van owners would save £24.44 made up of paying out for a two yearly test instead of every year and savings in personal time and fuel. But a consortium of 29 safety organisations, motoring groups, retailers and other transport groups mounted a vigorous campaign to fight the proposal. A report called "A Cost Too Far - the financial impact of ending annual MOT testing" spelled out the added financial burden on the motorist and it suggested motorists would incur extra costs of £81.81 from added repair costs, additional insurance premiums and fuel usage. In addition the research estimated that 4-2-2 would impose an extra cost to the UK of £1,444 million a year as road deaths and injuries would rise, jobs lost in the motor industry and revenue from taxes would fall.
The report by the Pro-MOTe campaign group which consisted of a wide cross section of the motor industry from the AA and Halfords, said: "Britain's roads are the safest in the world and the annual MOT testing regime is an important part of securing that. We support a review of the MOT regime to improve safety but oppose any move to reduce the frequency of tests which would make our roads more dangerous, prove more expensive for drivers and has been shown to be unwanted by drivers themselves."
Changing the current MOT system to a 4-2-2 model would have meant more defective cars on the road and risk increasing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads by almost 3,000 a year. Fortunately this scheme did not go ahead.
The latest proposal at least keeps the test frequency to an annual one but there is still great concern that vehicles would not need to be tested at all until they are four years old. This would mean that a vehicle could be driven for four years before having it's brakes, tyres, headlights and windscreen wipers tested!
The Government has agreed to carry out a Public Consultation with it originally scheduled to start in the Autumn of 2015, but since the VW emission scandal came to light the Consultation was pushed back to start in Spring 2016. The person responsible for the Consultation was Duncan Buchanan, but at the end of December Duncan changed his position within the DfT and has now been replaced by Elizabeth Shovelton.
On the 2nd February, the MOT Trade Forum met with Elizabeth and they asked her exactly when the Consultation was going to happen. She said she is seeking "Clearance to Consult" and it may be possible during the Summer this year. So the Consultation has not gone away!
Our trade association, the Garage Equipment Association (GEA), is actively involved in raising awareness of the potentially dangerous issues associated with these suggested changes. As a business closely involved with the motor trade, and as a supplier of vehicle testing equipment, we firmly support the GEA's stance. It is recommended that anybody with an interest in preserving road safety is encouraged to write to their MPs to express their concern.