Proposals to delay a car’s first MoT test to its fourth year and then every other year afterwards would increase the number of unsafe vehicles on UK roads, according to two-thirds of drivers in an AA/Populus poll of 18,700 AA members.
AA president Edmund King has written to road safety minister Mike Penning stating that “whilst we support the government’s efforts to cut red tape we cannot support measures that two-thirds of drivers think would make our roads less safe”.
A huge 94% of the respondents consider the MoT test to be very or quite important to road safety in the UK. Consequently, 62% of them think there would be more hazardous vehicles on the road if they were MoT tested every other year.
And, 41% say delaying a vehicle’s first MoT test to the fourth year would lead to more defective cars on the road.
Significantly, the Government’s desire to save drivers money, by changing the test frequency, appeals to only 4% of the AA members who say they could avoid some annual services and 13% who think the change would save them money.
The AA’s regular tracking of the impact of high fuel prices on drivers shows that 10% are cutting back on maintenance and servicing, making an annual MoT test all the more necessary.
Current MoT test failure rates reflect the impact of recession, now back at around the level seen in the downturn of the early 1990s. Between 1992 and 1994, the failure rate hit 38% while last year it reached 41%. In between, the rate fell as low as 29% between 2003 and 2005, even with the tightening of the emissions test.
Reliance on the MoT test as a yearly safety check is best illustrated by the 17.6% failure rate on lighting and signalling, the vast majority of which could be fixed by the owner soon after a bulb blows.
“All too often you spot cars driving with a headlight, tail light or brake light out. The only time many of these drivers do anything about it is when the car goes for an MoT test or if traffic police pull them over,” says Edmund King, the AA’s President.
“The Government’s idea to extend the MoT test intervals may be portrayed as an olive branch to drivers by reducing the burden on them, but the AA and three-fifths of our members believe it is a false saving which could lead to more expensive repairs later, and that’s before the safety argument. The Government should abandon plans for this consultation as TRL research shows than more crashes will result from less frequent MoTs.”