The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) issued guidance towards the end of last month that a car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date could be extended by six months if it was due on or after March 30.
The DVSA currently carries out 30 million MOTs a year through 23,000 test centres. But, with all this summer’s MOTs effectively being pushed back into the autumn/winter period, that could put unprecedented pressure on the system and leave drivers scrambling to find MOT slots.
Terry Hiles, general manager at Licence Check which is now part of the Ebbon-Dacs Group, said: “The six-month MOT extension raises concerns about the potential backlog of tests that will need to be carried out later this year.
“Centres will be twice as busy as normal during the autumn/winter period as 12 months’ demand will be effectively shoehorned into a six-month time frame.
“Employers will need to have in place robust systems in place to ensure MOTs are carried out on the new dates rather than the regular anniversary date that they may have become accustomed to.
“So MOT reminders and alerts to drivers will be vitally important.
“MOTs will need to be attended to once lockdown ends and many drivers may need a prompt to help them remember the new expiration date.
“One option could be to sign with the .gov.uk website for its text message reminder service so that drivers are sent reminders of their new date.”
Currently, some 10% of vehicles fail an MOT due to defective brakes, 13% for suspension faults and 8% for illegal tyres.
With a percentage of the nation’s cars not being MOT’d for a further six months, the chances of some of them being driven in an unroadworthy state could rise dramatically.
Drivers could face fines of up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, regardless of whether they are being operated under a six-month MOT extension or not.
The DVSA’s official guidance on its website says that insurance will still be valid, that drivers can still tax their vehicle and the vehicle’s record will be updated so the police can see they have a valid MOT during the six-month extension.
But insurance cover is likely to be invalidated if the vehicle is driven in a dangerous or defective state and the emphasis is on drivers to keep their vehicles in a roadworthy condition.
The DVSA advice is to take your vehicle to be repaired at the nearest open garage if it’s unsafe. These are allowed to stay open during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Licence Check said this uncertainty puts the onus on employers, especially those with large numbers of grey fleet drivers who use their own vehicles on company business, to have in place robust systems to ensure that vital checks are being carried out, such as MOTs, as soon as possible once lockdown is over to ensure continuing compliance.