If you haven’t heard much about the EU proposal for “periodic roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers” then you no doubt will soon. The first thing to say right at the top end of this article is simply, don’t worry too much just yet.
This, I will reiterate, is so far just a proposal with several possible outcomes. But let’s have a look at what the proposal actually is all about. The proposal’s objective is to achieve EU-wide (or “harmonised”) rules relating to vehicle roadworthiness for motor vehicles and trailers. The target is to reduce road fatalities by half. This is essentially a revision of the UK MoT laws.
Mild panic appears when the phrases “type approval” and “certificate of conformity” start getting bandied about. These terms may essentially be interpreted as the same thing. Each country has it’s own rules and regulations relating to a vehicle being allowed to drive on its roads.
A broad example of where you might directly come into contact with Type Approval, would be if you arrive in the UK to live and want to bring your beloved vehicle with you, then your vehicle will be subject to Type Approval through the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). This will make sure that the vehicle is deemed fit for our pot-hole ridden UK roads. In layman’s terms, this means that your vehicle fits our UK environmental and safety standards for passenger vehicles. Nothing major to really worry about there.
Where the slight worry has appeared, is in the somewhat ambiguous nature of the wording of the document in question and the suggestion in some quarters that modified cars will be outlawed. Looking at the Feedback Request Form in relation to the proposal is the easiest way to ascertain what is actually proposed – for a feedback form by nature has to be less, well – fluffy, shall we say. So let’s look at it in a little more detail.
The form contains 13 elements where comments can be submitted in relation to the proposal. The one area that seems to be causing all the fuss says “..components of the vehicle must comply with characteristics at the time of first registration..”
And this “..this may prevent most modifications to vehicles without further approval..”
If the phrase “..without further approval..” was missing I could understand the panic, but it isn’t missing – it’s there in black and white. And interpreting this to the best of my abilities, this simply means that should you modify your vehicle whilst between MoT tests, then you will be lawfully required to resubmit the vehicle for testing before it is deemed roadworthy again.
As all drivers of modified classic or modern vehicles know, when you decide to make some changes to your car at present, you can drive your vehicle away immediately – you even can lower your Beetle or Golf at home on your driveway after work and then drive to work the next day. This EU proposal, should it become law (and it probably will in some form or another), will change all that. But I feel it’s well worth repeating that the wording itself does not appear to signal an end to all modified cars. Maybe more control, yes, but an end? I don’t see it.
If I’ve interpreted this accurately, then we may all come to see this as a good thing in the long run. As I’ve said before on here, the MoT is your friend, it protects you and other road users.
Most proposal documents are ambiguous and hard to understand, but persevere and you will see that despite certain articles out there advocating that owners of modified vehicles might well take off a door and hide underneath it in the living room with a month’s supply of canned beans, this probably isn’t quite Armageddon just yet.
The ruling will take place in around 6 weeks, and rather like the recent proposal to make classic and historical vehicles manufactured prior to January 1st 1960 MoT exempt, it seems to me an attempt to bring the UK a little more into line with other European countries. We will keep you posted with any further developments.