The MOT test is a deeply ingrained part of motoring life. It’s been around since 1960 so most motorists just accept it. However, there have been rumblings from some detractors that the MOT test is outdated and should be scrapped altogether.

A report from the Adam Smith Institute claims that ending MOTs would have zero effect on the rate or severity of accidents caused by mechanical failure, which account for just two per cent of accidents on both sides of the Atlantic.

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The think tank goes on to suggest that the UK government would do a better job at improving road safety by focusing on driver error. This is because issues such as speeding, drink/drug-driving and not using a seatbelt make up nearly two-thirds of accidents in the UK.

Speed camera


There’s also the cost aspect to consider. The average driver is charged almost £150 in ‘unneeded’ repair costs, so collectively, scrapping MOTs would save Brits an estimated £250 million a year. Of course, the Adam Smith Institute realises that simply doing away with MOTs after almost six decades could be too drastic, so has suggested reducing the frequency of MOT tests.

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It says that, at the very least, the frequency of inspections should be stretched out to once every two years, while the age at which cars must be tested should be upped. In the US, annual safety inspections are not required in most states, and when safety inspections were ditched in some US states, accident rates did not change.

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“There’s no evidence that vehicle safety inspections improve vehicle safety,” said Alex Hoagland, the report’s author. Sam Dumitriu, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, added that MOT tests should be put to the test themselves. “New evidence from the US found that scrapping similar mandatory vehicle safety inspections had no impact on crash rates,” he commented. “Evidence, not gut feeling, should guide policy.”

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As you’d expect, many motoring authorities have been up in arms over the suggestion of ditching the MOT test. The RAC slammed the idea as ‘a recipe for disaster’ and ‘a huge backward step’.

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Nicholas Lyes, the organisation’s head of roads policy, said: “Drivers would no longer have to do anything routinely to check their vehicles are safe, which could lead to huge numbers of vehicles being driven that pose a danger to all road users.

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“More than a third of all cars and vans taken in for an MOT each year initially fail, so clearly the test is picking up some problems that need addressing that might otherwise make a vehicle unsafe.” While the report makes some interesting suggestions, it’s unfeasible to think that the government would seriously consider doing away the MOT so drastically.

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But what do you think? Is the MOT test past its expiry date? Let us know down in the comments.

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2 Responses

  1. Edward Harding

    Five years would be good enough as most manufacturers guarantee their cars for this period. They would not do that if there were any big likely hood of failure. It could be 5 years or 100,000 miles as some commercial vehicles can do very high mileage in a short period. Tyre checks are important and this could be handled in spot checks by MOT people at roadside and car parks.

  2. James

    As an ex mot tester it is only as good as the mechanic doing the test and if an mot is so important why is it only valid on the day of issue because a vehicle has a current not does not mean it is safe to be used on the road

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