Do you recall during the pandemic there was good news from the Department of Transport in early 2020? They announced there would be a 6-month extension on MOT tests as the COVID-19 pandemic began to worsen and it became apparent that it would not be safe for millions of people to be taking cars in for tests.
What Did the Original Announcement Say?
Back in March 2020, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced that any drivers whose MOT was due in the period after March 30 would be entitled to a six-month extension on that expiry date. The scheme was then terminated from 1 August of the same year, which means February is crunch time.
In February, 2021, as that extension period is coming to an end, we now have an entirely new problem on our hands. Multiple outlets are reporting that there are as many as nine million drivers in the UK who currently have no idea when exactly their next MOT will be. This could lead toa number of problems, which we outlie below.
28 Percent of All Drivers Could be Non-Roadworthy
A survey of around 1,300 drivers carried out by Total UK revealed the astonishing numbers of some 9 million drivers --- that’s about 28 percent of all drivers in the country --- do not know when they need to get their MOT done. The survey data showed that it is drivers over the age of 55 who are more affected, with apparently 1 in 3 admitting to not knowing when their current MOT certificate expires.
With all the confusion surrounding the proper timing for driving tests, the inevitable result is that more than a quarter of UK drivers may be operating their cars without a proper MOT certificate, and therefore driving a car that isn’t roadworthy. Put another way, it’s potentially putting millions of drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
Risks of Fines and Other Legal Reprisals
Further to the physical danger that not having a proper MOT test brings to public roads across the country, drivers face additional punitive measures. If they are found driving without an MOT, contrary to the popular belief that the punishment is just 3 points on their licence, drivers could actually face hefty fines of up to £1,000 and their cars being impounded.
Unsure of the Reality
At the heart of the matter, apparently, is not only that people haven’t been keeping track of when their MOT should be in accordance with the granted six-month extension, but also that they are unaware of the consequences of not getting their MOT. This seems to go hand in hand with other automotive realities that drivers are not facing up to. For example, in the same data from Total UK, it was discovered that an amazing 39 percent of drivers --- more than one in three --- believe that if their car is sitting on the drive or in their garage unused, then they don’t need insurance. A further 17 percent of people believed that insurance was only necessary for when you’re actually driving the car.
Put these misunderstandings with those of the potential punishments set out for drivers who fail to get their MOT done in time, and it seems that the UK is facing a crisis of ignorance among its driving population.
There was an additional figure in the Total UK data, too, which seems to indicate something eve more disturbing when it comes to the question of not understanding the reality. A total of 17 percent --- almost one in five --- of drivers admitted that they took their car out onto the road knowing that I had a fault; and this would likely be a fault that an MOT test would catch and demand to be repaired. At the end of the day, what’s at the root of all this trouble?
Root of the Problem: The Extension Itself
While at the time, the intentions of the six-month extension were clearly noble, allowing drivers and mechanics a grace period in order to firstly help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which we now know was an important endeavour after seeing how many lost their lives to the disease. Secondly, however, it was also to precent any panic or uncertainty about people using their car for their daily errands or other outdoor time during lockdown periods.
As the public health crisis worsened, there’s no doubt that the car’s MOT slipped from its previous place of priority in most people’s minds. This has been the unintended consequence of putting the extension in place back in early 2020. With six months meaning different dates for different drivers, as well as multiple lockdowns, changes to COVID-19 prevention rules, the multi-tier system and other information overloads the populace have been dealing with, it seems the date of the MOT test has slipped through the net.
National Divide on MOT
While these figures give us a nationwide average, the picture has not been the same across the entire country. Newcastle, for example, has proven itself the most exemplary area, with 90 percent of drivers knowing exactly when their MOT test was due even when factoring in the extension. The worst-affected area seems to be Bristol, where only four out of ten drivers apparently know that same key date.
Conclusion: What Do These Figures Mean?
The numbers put out by Total UK are alarming for a number of reasons. First of all, they indicate that as the country prepares to open up again in the wake of an ongoing but so-far highly successful vaccine rollout, there could be millions of cars on the road that are unsafe for use. The MOT may seem like a trivial expense to many of us, but the checks performed largely ensure that an unworthy machine isn’t allowed to operate on our public roads, and that protects the drivers of those machines as well as those mad victim by their inevitable failures.
A second implication is a potential wave of punishments coming the way of the British population. If people don’t get their MOT date in order and complete the test on time, then they could be facing a steep fine, as well as their car being impounded. That’s going to be far more expensive in all to deal with than it would be just to get the test and even get something repaired that needs repairing.
Finally, it implies that while some announcements and policies in these troubled times have good intentions, we should all be wary of what they mean in the longer term. The first thing people should have done when the extensions arrived was confirmed a new date with their MOT testing centre, or at least calculated a provisional one and put it onto a calendar. In all, it’s a failure of personal responsibility, as well as government policy.
Make sure you haven’t got your MOT date mixed up. Driving a car that isn’t roadworthy is a danger to yourself and others. Check in with your local MOT test centre and get a date confirmation as soon as possible.