The Government is being urged to do more to persuade motorists to book their MOT now in the interests of road safety and fears testing stations could become overwhelmed.
Vehicles were granted the six-month exemption from the MOT test in March, when the lockdown was introduced to slow the spread of coronavirus.
That exemption ended this month, with all cars, motorcycles or vans due an MOT test from August 1 now required to get a test certificate.
More than half of drivers (56%), who had an MOT due between March 30 and July 31, 2020, used the six-month extension to delay the test beyond the expiry date on their existing certificate, according to a YouGov poll.
The study, commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman, also found that making tests mandatory from August 1, has done little to persuade drivers to book tests, with only 29% of people that had passed the original expiry date, stating they had done so.
Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “The results of our study and wider industry data clearly shows that there is cause for worry, due to the number of potentially unsafe cars on the road that have not had their MOT.
“This is compounded by the concern that the recent government announcement has created very little impetus to buck this trend.”
With garages and repairers opening their doors following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, Fennell is urging fleets and drivers to get vehicles booked in “as soon as possible”.
“This means that they will have a better chance of securing a booking and will also help to alleviate a large build-up of outstanding tests that could leave MOT stations unable to cope at a later date,” he said.
The YouGov poll of 765 people in Great Britain, who have a car of three or more years of age, and that had an existing MOT certificate expiring between March 30 and July 31, 2020, revealed that one in five (20%) of respondents had let the original MOT deadline given to them in 2019 pass, but had used the additional window to get their car’s MOT completed ahead of schedule, rather than waiting until the last possible day.
The findings reflect data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which revealed almost 4.9 million Class 4 MOTs, which includes passenger cars, were conducted between April 1 and June 30, 2020 - down more than 50% when compared to the 10.3m tests conducted in the same period last year.
DVSA is predicting that September, October and November 2020, are likely to be very busy months for MOT centres, because vehicles that were given an extension and those that would normally be due their MOT will both need to be tested.
Chris Price, DVSA head of MOT policy, said: “MOT exemptions were issued to allow people to continue to use their vehicles for essential travel during the pandemic.
“We know that MOT centres are likely to be very busy this autumn with double the usual demand. We are encouraging motorists to consider bringing their MOT forward to help beat the rush.”