Govt still mulling cancelling 6-month MOT extension as research reveals most drivers will MOT anyway

14th June 2020 | John – 13th June 2010

The government has confirmed the 6-month MOT extension remains ‘under review’ as new research shows nearly half of drivers expect to get their cars checked as normal anyway.

Rumours are circulating once again in the industry that the MOT extension – put in place on March 29 and set to run for a year – could be cancelled soon.

Sources close to the subject have said it is a case of ‘watch this space closely’ over the next seven days as transport secretary Grant Shapps weighs up just how long to keep the six month MOT extension scheme running.

The government is grappling with how to pull back the rushed legislation that was put in place to keep drivers mobile during the lockdown, but is proving tricky to repeal.

Yesterday (June 10), a government spokesperson for the Department and Vehicle Standards Agency told Car Dealer ‘there are no further updates’ still and reconfirmed the statement issued at the end of May.

‘The exemption remains under review and an update will be provided in due course,’ the DVSA spokesperson told us.

However, with garages and car dealers now fully open and lockdown restrictions being eased further still, there is growing frustration that the extension remains in place.

Industry bodies, car dealers and organisations believe the six month MOT extension should be cancelled now as it is leaving many unchecked and unroadworthy vehicles on the road.

Currently, anyone with an MOT due during the current 12-month timeframe automatically gets an extension of six months issued seven days before the MOT is due. The MOT extension is running from March 30, 2020, to March 29, 2021.

A survey, released today by RAC Approved Garages, appears to suggest that, despite the extension, of 2,200 drivers surveyed between 17-24 May some 44 per cent still planned to get an MOT test as normal.

Head of RAC Motoring Services Adam O’Neill said: ‘Since the coronavirus lockdown took effect, hundreds of thousands of vehicles every month have been missing their normal MOTs and in turn there’s a risk that more unroadworthy cars are now on our roads, especially as many more of us are now driving compared to March.

‘It’s encouraging therefore to see that a large proportion of people we surveyed clearly care about the condition of their cars and aren’t being put off from getting them through their MOTs or serviced as normal.’

More than half of respondents told RAC that they were planned on getting the check carried out anyway because they wanted to ensure basic safety checks were carried out. Others, (16 per cent) feared that there would be a huge backlog of drivers wanting tests as the lockdown eased further.

This is the biggest problem with cancelling the MOT extension. The government is fearful of the capacity in the garage network to cope with thousands more MOTS needed on top of those already falling due later this year.

As it stands, all those that received extensions in March, April, May, and now June, would need their tests carried out in September, October, November and December – causing concerns in the government that these simply won’t be able to happen.

Many believe it’s for this reason that the MOT extension has not been cancelled yet as the government is still working out how to phase it out.

In a letter to the Independent Garage Association last month, the transport secretary Grant Shapps said they needed to work out how to cope with the spike in demand that could come in six months time.

He said: ‘When testing is reintroduced, it needs to be done when there is sufficient capacity, not only immediately, but also when those vehicles that have been excluded become due for testing.’

Meanwhile, online car maintenance provider Fixter believes that more drivers will face breakdowns because of the MOT extension.

In a survey of 300 people it found that 70 per cent were planning on using their cars for a summer holiday – but nearly the same amount (69 per cent) hadn’t prepared them properly.

‘Since the six-month MOT extension has been put into place, a greater number of drivers could experience breakdowns on their way to their holiday destination or during a road trip,’ said a spokesperson for Fixter.

A report by road safety charity Brake and breakdown rescue firm Green Flag has highlighted the dangers of millions of drivers delaying an MOT.

It cited government test data showing that of the 37m cars and vans licensed in Britain, nearly a third fail their initial MOT with more than a fifth having a major defect.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that 39 people were killed and 378 seriously injured on Britain’s roads in crashes where a vehicle defect was a contributory factor in 2018.

Brake director of campaigns Joshua Harris has stressed the importance of regular safety checks of vehicles.

‘Even minor defects, like a worn wiper blade, can play a part in a catastrophic crash,’ he said. ‘Drivers have a responsibility for a vehicle’s safety and this is a responsibility which should not be taken lightly.’

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