British motorists have put their support firmly behind keeping the first MOT test for cars at three years, according to the results of new research published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
In a YouGov survey, when told about government plans to change the date of a car’s first MOT, more than three quarters (76%) of car owners said the test should continue to take place when the vehicle is three years old.
Currently, all cars in the UK must undergo an MOT test when they reach three years old, and then annually thereafter, but government is proposing to delay the date of the first test for 12 months to when the car is four years old. It argues this would save motorists £100m a year, or £45 over the vehicle’s lifetime. However, 83% of car owners showed resistance to the idea, saying that £45 – the typical MOT test fee – is worth the peace of mind that their car is safe, roadworthy and legal.
More than two thirds (68%) also expressed concern that delaying the car’s first MOT could put themselves and other road users in danger and the industry shares this concern. In its consultation, government suggests that new technology in cars such as tyre pressure monitoring systems, lane departure warning or wet weather tyre performance, is making cars safer. However, while such systems may help prevent or mitigate accidents, they do not change the fundamental underlying operation of wear and tear products such as tyres and brakes, which continue to require regular checks and maintenance.
SMMT estimates 17% of all cars taking their first MOT at three years do not meet minimum safety requirements. Postponing the first MOT for a further 12 months could, therefore, result in almost half a million more cars in unfit condition driving freely and unchecked on UK roads.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The MOT is an essential check on the safety and roadworthiness of vehicles. Extending the first test for cars from three to four years is not what consumers or industry want given the serious risk posed to road safety and vehicles’ environmental performance.
“The latest vehicles are equipped with advanced safety systems but it is still critical that wear and tear items such as tyres and brakes are checked regularly and replaced. We urge government to scrap its plans to change a test system that has played a vital role in making the UK’s roads among the safest in the world.”