On 22nd January 2017 the Department for Transport (DFT) commenced a period of public consultation to seek views about changing the date of the first MOT (Ministry of Transport) test in Great Britain for cars, motorcycles and vans from when they are three years old to four years. The DFT's rationale for this consultation is that modern vehicles have improved technology which have lead to improvements in road safety, and the testing threshold has not been revised since the 1960s.
Industry and trade bodies have spoken out against this proposal stating that many owners will let their car be run for many months, even years, without it being seen by an industry professional and often the first MOT is the moment at which a vehicle gets its first proper check over.
The DFT have stated that if the first test is moved to four years the saving to consumers could be in the region of £109 million however they have acknowledged any extension to the first test period would result in lost revenue to MOT garages as they would lose the fee for those vehicles no longer requiring the three year test. Motorists will still be required to keep their vehicles in a roadworthy condition and therefore necessary repairs would still need to be made.
Industry bodies have stated that, without doubt, this proposal would cost consumers more in repair costs, could also incentivise 'clockers' and potentially damage the UK's excellent road safety record.
As we are suppliers to the trade we are of course concerned about the impact this proposal could have on our clients' business if it goes through, but also wonder what the implications really are as far as road safety is concerned. So we thought we would ask the experts - the people that carry out MOT tests. We invited clients to respond to a survey about this subject and now we can reveal the results.
We asked "Are you aware of the Government's public consultation about extending the first MOT test from three to four years?
96.8% of respondents stated that they were aware.
We asked our clients to rate the following statement from 'Not Likely' to 'Most Likely':
"Extending the first MOT test to four years will affect my business financially."
Only 3% of respondents said not likely and 3% said they were unsure.
15% said it would possibly affect them financially whilst 78% said it most likely would.
We also asked our clients to rate the following statement from 'Not Likely' to 'Most Likely':
"Extending the first MOT test to four years will affect road safety."
10% said it would possibly affect road safety whilst 90% said it most likely would.
So that means 100% of respondents think there is a significant chance that this proposal could affect road safety!
We asked our clients how much revenue they thought their business would lose in a year if the first MOT test is moved to four years and we received responses ranging from £2,500.00 to £35,000.00 per site. Most responses were in the £15,000.00 to £25,000.00 range. One multi-site group estimated they could lose approximately £900,000.00! Even the lesser figures quoted are a lot of money for a business to lose and one respondent stated that they would probably have to lose a staff member.
We then asked "When vehicles are presented for first test at three years have you ever found that any of these items may fail?"
- Lights 93.7% said yes
- Steering and Suspension 84.3% said yes
- Wipers and Washer Bottle 84.3% said yes
- Windscreen 59.3% said yes
- Wheels and Tyres 93.7% said yes
- Brakes 84.3% said yes
We asked our clients for some examples and we received replies such as:
"We have had many cases of 3 year old cars failing an MOT on brakes, bald tyres, worn suspension ball joints and track-rod end, headlight aim and if they had not come in for an MOT would have been a danger on the roads. Most customers rely on their chosen garage to ensure that they are driving a safe car and advise them on any faults found as they are nearly always unaware of the fact that something is wrong."
"I carried out a test on a number of new vehicles and have always found poor maintenance on safety items relating to brakes and tyres."
"Before the government start extending the MOT test by another year they should do something with the roads, even new cars aren't immune from pothole damage, broken springs, damaged tyres and wheels to bend and damaged suspension arms, what cost is road safety? 1 MOT a year..................."
So from the data collected, our conclusion is that if the extension to the first MOT test were to go ahead vehicles could be driven on the UK's roads for a further twelve months with unsafe systems and components. Surely this runs the risk of jeopardising road safety?
The DFT state that extending the first MOT test to four years could save consumers £109 million which is a huge sum of money but when you think about it, it only saves each individual the cost of an MOT. That's anything up to £54.85 but is understood to be an average of £45.00. That's it. Now, we know that may be a lot of money to some people but surely it is nothing in comparison to the potential increased risks of serious injury or even death posed by allowing unsafe vehicles to be driven on the UK's roads for longer, unchecked.
As can be seen from the survey results, as each individual saves £45.00 the businesses that carry out MOT tests could stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds, and many of those are small businesses.
We all have until 16th April 2017 to respond to the public consultation so if this post has given you food for thought we would suggest you visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/extending-first-mot-date-to-4-years where you will be able to view the consultation document and find ways to respond.