Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Important are MOT Tests?

New European Union rules could lead to a reduction in the frequency of MOT tests in the UK, spiking fears about how this will affect safety on the roads, accident rates and car insurance premiums.

 The current system requires cars to get their first check at three years, with follow-up MOTs on an annual basis after this point. A reduction in the number of tests being conducted could mean that problems are not identified until they put owners at risk.

 What are the new proposals?

The European Directive sets out a new minimum test for vehicle roadworthiness and is the standard across most of the continent. It would require that drivers get their vehicles checked four years after they are purchased and then every two years subsequently.

A survey of British drivers conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has found that 60 per cent believe that a car’s first MOT should continue to be carried out after the first three years on the road. Only 29 per cent believe that the country should adopt the European system of testing.
How will the change affect drivers?

Recent figures published by the IAM have shown that 27 per cent of three-year-old cars in the UK actually fail their MOT tests. With the new system, this would mean that at least a quarter of vehicles at this age would still be on the road despite the fact they do not meet this standard. In France, which uses the new system, only six per cent of vehicles actually fail their first test at the four-year mark.

Brits typically support the way that MOT tests are currently conducted in the UK, with almost two-thirds expressing confidence that any problems with their car or bike will always be picked up. But there is also an undercurrent of discontent with the way that these are run in the UK. Almost a third of drivers are wary about the independence of garages that conduct these tests. A quarter believe that these companies deliberately find things wrong in order to charge them for repairs, while 40 per cent do not believe that garages conduct the tests to a consistent standard.

 Do people believe MOTs are value for money?

Simon Best, chief executive of the IAM, claimed that Brits typically see the MOT as a value-for-money test that keeps the country safe. “In a time when people are struggling financially, the MOT seems to be one cost they are happy to pay” he explained.

Mr Best said that there is a great deal of wariness among the public and garages themselves about abandoning the tried-and-tested model of MOT testing that is currently in place.

 He highlighted the high failure rates of cars in the UK and said that this requires some serious questions to be asked. Pointing to the comparative rates of different countries, he said that the government must work to identify the factors behind these variations before attempting to improve the system.

Mr Best called for the government to instigate a review of the system that would show that MOT tests are safe, reliable and consistent. He added that this should be conducted for the public’s benefit rather than that of the garages which conduct these tests.

What other changes are to be made to MOTs?

 January 2012 is expected to see a number of other changes to the way MOT’s are conducted. A shift will be made across the year in which motorists will be required to have any necessary repairs conducted immediately in order for the MOT certificate to be issued.

The test will also examine the operation of dashboard warning lights relating to airbags, tyre pressure, power steering and the headlights, while anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control systems will now need to be assessed too.

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