July 23rd could go down in history as the day the UK’s enviable road safety record took a turn for the worse. The date signals the end of a public consultation on the future of the MOT test, the annual benchmark by which we assess vehicle roadworthiness.
Conceived in the late 1960s, the annual MOT test was originally introduced to measure important safety concerns such as brakes and tyres. Later, as growing concerns over pollution emerged, its remit expanded to include emissions.
Under the new proposals this much-recognised framework would change in two key ways. Firstly, all new cars would need an MOT test once they reach four years old, as opposed to the current three. Secondly, rather than being an annual event, MOT tests would instead be required every two years.
A Petition for Road Safety
So far, some 10,000 members of the public have signed a petition against the proposed changes, a figure that falls far short of the 100,000 benchmark that would force a public debate in parliament.
However, based on conversations we’ve had across our community of MotorEasy members, this muted public response is more reflective of the fact that most motorists aren’t even aware of the government’s proposals.
As we unknowingly march towards the changes, leaders across the automotive industry are unanimous in their opposition to the proposal. Mike Hawes, President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has joined the chorus of many, branding the changes as "dangerous". With more than 300,000 cars failing the test every year due to critical safety points like brakes, tyres, supension and lights, they cite genuine fears over road safety and a lack of transparency over the impact that the changes would have on the cost of motoring.
The evidence on both fronts is compelling - less frequent testing increases the risk of undetected faults that further deteriorate to undermine vehicle safety. In fact, recent analysis of over 38 million MOTs conducted in 2021 has found that almost one in five resulted in failure.
On the broader "cost of motoring issue" issue: while motorists could pocket savings for MOT tests every other year, there is a very real threat that undiagnosed faults would mount up into far bigger repair bills over the longer term. This, say many industry commentators, would simply be a false economy.
Commenting on the proposed changes, Duncan McClure Fisher, CEO of Intelligent Motoring, the parent company of MotorEasy said “worryingly, whilst the automotive sector has collectively challenged the reforms, just over 10,000 people have signed the petition to date, suggesting numerous consumers are unaware of the potential change, and more significantly, many more do not fully appreciate its implications. The current MOT system has helped the UK achieve one of the best road safety records in the world”.
Aside from the obvious cost and safety concerns, the proposals are also likely to have an environmental impact. Checks that would otherwise weed out or repair polluting vehicles every year are completely at odds with the broader debate around climate change. While cars are undoubtedly more efficient and less polluting than ever, the sight of an aged petrol or diesel vehicle belching out fumes seems a good enough reason to catch offending vehicles that would otherwise go unseen for two years.
With safety, economic and environmental concerns at threat, surely the future of our MOTs is a debate worth having in parliament.
With less than a month before the public consultation closes, we are urging MotorEasy members and the broader driving public to use their voice and rally together by signing-up to the online petition.
You can sign the petition here, it takes just a few seconds.