Plans to extend MOT-free period for cars ditched

Government plans to extend the period before a car’s first MOT have been abandoned over safety fears.

Government plans to extend the period before a car’s first MOT have been abandoned over safety fears.

The Department for Transport (DfT) held a consultation last year proposing that new cars should be allowed on Britain’s roads for four years before undergoing the test.

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But most of the responses were against extending the current three-year limit, arguing that it would increase the risk to road users as the test often highlights potential issues affecting vehicles.

A public survey commissioned by the DfT found that fewer than half of people were in favour of the change, which would also have applied to motorcycles.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MOT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk.”

The DfT estimates its proposals would have saved motorists more than £100 million a year.

The maximum fee for a car is £54.85 while a standard motorcycle test is £29.65.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at driving charity IAM RoadSmart, said a “clear majority” of its members supported the status quo.

He went on: “Far too many vehicles fail their first MOT on safety-critical items such as tyres and brakes to risk change which might have undermined our world-leading safety record.”

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said the MOT test “focuses drivers’ minds” on the state of their vehicles.

He believes maintaining the timing of the first test could actually save people money by alerting them to problems before they become “serious, expensive to fix and dangerous to other road users”.

In 1967 the MOT-free period was slashed from ten to three years.

Increasing this to four years would have brought Britain into line with Northern Ireland and many other European countries including France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Norway.

Motorists can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

Vehicles must undergo the test on the third anniversary of their registration and every 12 months if they are over three years old.

It is also a legal requirement that vehicles are roadworthy, regardless of whether they have passed an MOT.

A number of vehicle parts are checked during MOTs to ensure they meet legal standards, such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes.

Twenty-eight people were killed and 413 were seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2016 when a vehicle defect was a contributory factor.