Vast majority of car owners don’t want MOT rules eased

More than two-thirds of UK car owners believe a proposed relaxation of MOT rules would put lives in danger, a new survey suggests.

Around 67 per cent of respondents to a poll commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) opposed extending the time before new cars, motorbikes and vans need their first MOT, due to safety concerns.

A Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on its proposal for new vehicles to require an MOT after four years rather than three closes at 11.45pm today, Wednesday 22 March.

More than 300,000 vehicles a year fail their first MOT.

The MOT test checks a number of essential parts on a vehicle, such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes to ensure they meet legal standards.

DfT figures show that 26 people were killed in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2021 when vehicle defects were a contributory factor.

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents to the SMMT survey believe the typical cost of an MOT – which ranges from £35 to £45 – is worth paying for the peace of mind it gives them.

The SMMT said the proposed delay for the first test would save an average new vehicle owner as little as 23p a week over three years.

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) people questioned for the survey said they would prefer other ways to save money, such as cutting vehicle excise or fuel duty.

Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT, said: “Safety is the number one priority for the automotive industry and the MOT is a crucial component in keeping the UK’s vehicles and roads safe.

“Our survey shows that drivers support the existing MOT frequency and that there is little appetite to change it, despite the increased cost of living.

“If changes to the MOT are to be made, these should enable testing of advanced electrified powertrains, driver assistance technologies and connected and automated features, as drivers value the peace of mind the MOT offers.”

The DfT says its proposal could save motorists around £100m a year and would bring Britain’s rules on tests for new vehicles into line with countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

A DfT spokesperson said: “Road safety is an absolute priority, but as car technology becomes more advanced and fewer new vehicles fail MOT tests, we are considering whether an initial test at three years remains necessary in this age.

“The move would align with the many other countries in Europe which don’t require roadworthiness tests for the first four years and would also save motorists across Britain around £100m a year in MOT fees.

“We are currently consulting on the proposed changes and will carefully consider responses before setting out decisions.”

The survey commissioned by the SMMT polled 1,784 UK adults with a car in their household and was carried out by research company Savanta in February.

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