The government has confirmed the six-month MOT exemption is under constant review – and could be cancelled at any time.
Currently the MOT extension is running from March 30, 2020, to March 29, 2021 – with any cars due an MOT in that time period given an automatic 6-month extension.
But industry bodies – like the Independent Garage Association (IGA) – are appealing to the government to cancel the extension as they believe the longer it goes on the more dangerous it becomes.
Anyone with an MOT due during the current 12-month timeframe identified by the government automatically gets an extension of six months issued seven days before the MOT is due.
A government source told Car Dealer Magazine that the legislation was designed this way so that it could run for longer than it was needed without the need for more legislation to be passed.
Now, with the lockdown easing, garages reopening in larger numbers and car dealers hoping to reopen on June 1, calls for the 6-month extension to be canned have grown louder.
Baroness Vere, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport, has said that the MOT exemption is ‘under constant review’.
She said: ‘The duration of the changes remains under review and, if no longer required, this instrument will be amended to bring forward the last day on which a six-month exclusion can begin.’
She added that the DVSA has issued guidance on what drivers need to do to keep a car safe and roadworthy during this time.
However, IGA director Stuart James said many drivers will not be doing that and the exemption should be retracted ‘as soon as possible’.
number of MOTs usually carried out every year
He told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘Every year around 30m MOTs are carried out – and out of those tested 10 million fail.
‘Some 5.8 per cent of those failures – or 580,000 cars – fail on bald tyres which could mean tens of thousands of people are driving around right now on dangerous tyres.
‘Not only will they face three points and a fine, but also that’s incredibly dangerous.’
He said now was the time to change the legislation to boost the economy and road safety.
He said: ‘Our MOT is the best in the world so let’s not ruin that. We support the government with everything they did to battle the coronavirus, but now is the right time to get the economy back on track and MOTs play a big part in that.
‘We think the government will change the extension soon – it has clearly been designed to be repealed at any time as that’s why the extension is only applied seven days before the MOT is due. It can’t come soon enough.’
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive agrees, telling the Telegraph: ‘Given many of these vehicles have been idle for many weeks, a reconsideration of the six-month MoT extension needs to be made as soon as possible.’
The system has caused problems for drivers. The 6-month extension is only applied seven days before the MOT is due so if you need to tax your car, you have to wait until the extension has been applied to do so.
Cars must remain roadworthy during the extension and drivers could face invalidating their insurance if they don’t check things like tyre tread depths or broken lights.
Between March 16 and April 13 this year, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) statistics show the number of MOT tests conducted fell by 78 per cent.
Garage owner Mark Smyth told Car Dealer Magazine that his business reopened on May 11 and four customers opted to have their MOTs carried out anyway despite the exemptions.
‘Of those, two of them needed brakes, one had two illegal tyres and the other an exhaust had fallen off,’ he said.
‘Today we carried out an MOT on a Fiat 500 2010. The MOT had already been extended but the customers mum wanted to make sure the car was safe.
‘We found an extremely dangerous shock absorber mounting which had collapsed. If this car had hit a large pothole the wheel would have broken off and untold damage would have occurred and possible injury.
This is one of several reasons why the extension should stop now before its too late.’
Meanwhile Kwik Fit has revealed research that shows 1.1m unroadworthy vehicles could be returning to roads because of the MOT exemption.
In an update on Friday, May 22, the firm – which carries out more MOTs than any other company in the UK – said it believes 1,096,000 vehicles that have received a six-month extension would have failed a test.
Of those, it is estimated that some 316,000 would have dangerous defects, while the remaining 780,000 vehicles would fail with major defects.
The firm’s Roger Griggs said: ‘It has been very interesting to see that many drivers have still had their car MOTed in spite of receiving an extension, because they want the reassurance a test provides.
‘The extension has been very helpful to drivers during the lockdown, but as Covid-19 prevention measures begin to ease we urge the government to remove the automatic extension in order to prevent dangerous and illegal cars taking to the roads unchecked.’
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