David Dawson has said MOTs every two years will lead to unsafe cars being on the road
A Preston garage owner is warning that any change to how often a vehicle requires an MOT could result in “death-traps” being driven on Lancashire’s roads.
David Dawson was so appalled by reports that the government might consider lengthening the gap between the roadworthiness tests from one year to two that he immediately contacted the city’s MP over the issue. He says he was spurred to act after the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that he did not “rule anything out” in relation to the mooted possibility of scrapping annual MOTs.
Sky News reported that the secretary of state had floated the idea during a meeting at which Boris Johnson had sought suggestions from cabinet members about steps that could be taken by the government to ease the cost of living crisis.
Mr. Shapps told the transport select committee that any such move would have to “fit a very rigorous safety standard” – and that he was not in a position to announce any changes at the moment. Currently, vehicles have to undergo an MOT every 12 months once they are three years old.
David Dawson says removing that requirement in order to ease the pressure on people’s pockets might be a laudable aim – but could have lethal results.
“The MOT is just a snapshot on the day of whether a vehicle meets the minimum standards. Quite often a vehicle might pass its MOT, because [say] its tyres meet those minimums – but in a few weeks they’d become illegal. So the driver goes away with an advisory [notice] saying that their vehicle will soon need four new tyres.
“But people are so relieved that it’s passed the MOT, they quickly forget about the advisories and come back a year later and still haven’t had them changed – by which point the tyres are completely bald and there are wires sticking out of the side walls. Under this [suggested policy], that would go undetected for two years rather than one.
“There are so many things on a vehicle that can go wrong – the brakes or steering, for instance. You can accelerate up to 50 or 60mph in a few seconds and if something fails, you could become a passenger in what potentially is a lethal weapon,” warned David, who runs the Car Doctor, on Marsh Lane, with his son.
Government figures show that between October and December last year, 30 percent of the 8.7 million cars, vans and vehicles with up to 12 seats which were tested nationwide during that period initially failed their MOT. Of those, a third had at least one issue classed as a “dangerous item”.
David, who has been in the motor industry for more than 45 years, says his well-established business could sustain a drop in income as a result of less regular testing – and insists his concern is born out of genuine fear that any change could put road users at risk. He says that the six-month grace period offered by the government on overdue MOTs during the first lockdown in 2020 brought to his door evidence of “horrendous examples” as to why a longer gap between tests would be a misguided idea.
“As well as issues with tyres, we had vehicles come in after 18 months where you could feel lots of play in the steering. Some of them had wear and tear on components in both the steering and the suspension, which could potentially have failed if they’d been left any longer or if the driver had hit a pothole – and that would have left them not in control of their vehicle.
“The whole idea is a double-edged sword, because when people come in for an MOT, they might also book a service, which is a more rigorous check. But most people haven’t got the cash to maintain their car as would be recommended by the manufacturer – so the MOT is the only time that the vehicle is looked at by a garage.