IAM RoadSmart warns of impact Covid-19 could have on your road safety if your MOT is due soon

A small minority of drivers are risking their lives by putting off their annual vehicle check (MOT). It’s not just about their own safety, as they could be affecting other people’s lives by gambling with their vehicle’s fitness for the road.

IAM RoadSmart is encouraging all road users to get their MOT done as soon as possible to avoid leaving ‘safety to chance’. The UK’s largest independent road safety charity is warning those who took advantage of exemptions and extensions last year might struggle to meet this year’s September deadline. Slots could be limited, and this could have serious impacts on safety for all.

Those that took advantage of the six-month MOT extension for all cars, vans and motorcycles in Britain, introduced by the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) from 30 March 2020 as the lockdown began nationwide, could be facing more than they bargained for. Drivers and riders in Northern Ireland have been given a one-year exemption.

The facts

  • 20% of 14,688 UK motorists surveyed by a leading motoring organisation said they took advantage of the extension policy.
  • This equates to a potential 5.5 million cars with a delayed MOT.
  • Many drivers had their vehicles tested in September 2020, meaning their test is now due in September 2021.
  • Added to 339,000 owners who bought new cars in September 2018 who now have their first MOT due.
  • Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 for using a vehicle without a valid MOT.
  • Vehicles must have an MOT on the third anniversary of their registration, and then every 12 months.
  • People usually leave booking their MOT to the last possible moment.

While September is set to be a super month for garages, drivers that don’t plan-ahead could suffer if it gets difficult to get a test booked during the predicted huge spikes in demand. Add to this fact that with Covid-19 still causing resource issues, garages might be stretched to the limit, and tests might need to be rescheduled pushing owners closer to a non-negotiable deadline.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy and Research, said: “It’s not only false economy to delay your MOT test but it could also potentially have deadly consequences. Missing a key window to get a test done will cost you financially with a fine but more importantly puts lives at risk on our roads.

“You could be inviting a mechanical problem, and you’ll end up at the back of the queue for repairing vital safety equipment like lights, tyres and brakes which all need to meet legal standards. The backlog created by the relaxation of the rules leads to inevitable delays and hassle trying to get a booking that fits your needs and having any adjustments completed that become urgent.”

So, what can you do in the meantime if you face a long queue and are concerned about safety?

“Vehicle maintenance checks are something we should all be doing weekly. Hard to check areas such as brakes and emissions need to be assessed by a garage. A clean bill of health given by an MOT station is a good starting point for your own regular safety checks.

 “It may well save you money on expensive repairs in the long run and it could enhance the value of your car if you decide to trade in or take advantage of the much talked about scrappage schemes that may be coming along soon.

You can check your car’s MOT status online at https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-status.

You can also see our POWDERY checks video here.

For advice on basic vehicle checks you can undertake regularly yourself, see our recent tips here.