Most drivers fear MOT rules relaxation will risk lives, suggests poll

More than two-thirds of UK drivers fear a proposed easing of MOT rules will put their lives in danger, according to a poll for the car industry.

The survey, commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), comes as a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation into the proposed shake-up closes at 11.45pm on Wednesday.

The potential plans include delaying when a new car, motorbike or van has its first MOT from the current three years to four.

Ministers argue that improvements in road safety, electric cars and wider technology mean the rules need to be modernised - and say it will also save motorists money.

But the poll of 1,784 Britons, carried out by research firm Savanta, found 67% opposed the move due to safety concerns.

Nearly three-quarters also said they believed the cost of a MOT - which typically costs from £35 to £45 - was worth paying for the peace of mind it gave them.

The DfT says the move would save motorists around £100m a year and bring the UK into line with countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The SMMT, which has previously spoken out against a relaxation of the rules, said it would only amount to as little as 23p a week over three years for the average car owner.

'Little appetite' for change

Other measures in the consultation include proposals for pollution tests to form part of MOTs and new checks on the batteries of electric vehicles.

But critics have expressed concern that any shake-up could go even further, after former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last year refused to rule out the prospect of annual MOTs being scrapped and replaced with checks every two years instead.

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SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Safety is the number one priority for the automotive industry and the MOT is a crucial component in keeping the UK's vehicles and roads safe.

"Our survey shows that drivers support the existing MOT frequency and that there is little appetite to change it, despite the increased cost of living."

The tests involve checks on parts such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes but more than 300,000 vehicles a year fail their first MOT.

Vehicle defects were also identified as being partly to blame for at least 26 fatal crashes on Britain's roads in 2021.