Normally, a new car needs to take its first MOT after three years, but now the Department for Transport has put forward proposals to extend that period to four years. The policy is currently undergoing public consultation, and you can read the full consultation document and respond with your views here. It’s running until Sunday 16th April.
What has the Government already done to cut the cost of motoring?
This consultation is the Government's latest offering to motorists. Since they came to power in 2010, the Conservatives have appeared keen to appeal to this particular constituency, prioritising a number of measures to make journeys smoother and cheaper.
The most headline-grabbing of these has been Fuel Duty; George Osborne cut it by a penny in 2011, and he and Philip Hammond have kept it frozen ever since. But the Government has also put a lot of money into England’s roads, committing £15.2 billion between 2015 and 2021 to fund projects from the A303 in Devon to the A1 in Northumberland. Ministers boast of ‘the greatest improvement to our road network since the 1970s.’ They also established a new Pothole Action Fund, which gives £50 million a year to councils to fix local roads.
The pros and cons of extending a car's first MOT
What is the Government's rationale for looking at MOT tests? Announcing the consultation, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: ‘New vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago and so it is only right we bring the MOT test up to date to help save motorists money where we can.’
Jones also points out that several other European countries – including Denmark and Norway, which have strong road safety records – already don’t require the equivalent test until the end of year four.
But the DfT do recognise that this new policy could still affect road safety. In 2015, according to the consultation document, 17% of cars failed their first MOT, which means that no longer testing cars at the end of their third year could potentially lead to more accidents – in fact, the DfT estimates that there could be between 1.5 and 2.8 more fatalities a year, and between 18.9 to 35.3 more serious injuries. Is this a risk worth taking? The difficulty and seriousness of this question might explain why the Government has put this idea out to consultation, so that the public's views are properly represented and considered.
As for the more positive aspects of the policy, the DfT points out that, aside from saving car owners an average of around £45 for the cost of one MOT, businesses with large fleets will also save on paperwork and planning.
It is clear from this proposal that the Government still wants to be seen as being on the side of motorists. Freezes to Fuel Duty have helped with that effort, but after six years many drivers have simply come to expect them. That’s why Ministers are looking to other changes to achieve their goal.