Secretary of State for Transport, Phillip Hammond, was reported in a number of national newspapers as stating that the Department for Transport is seriously considering a reduction in the frequency in MOT testing to 4 years after purchasing a new car, then every two years thereafter.
Assuming this change in the MOT regulations (which currently require a yearly test once the vehicle is three years old) is to be applied to motorcycles too, is this a good or a bad thing?
According to John Ball, the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) MOT chairman: “In 2008 the DfT produced a report on this subject, stating that such a change to the frequency of MOT testing could result in 400 extra road deaths a year.
“However, last weekend the Transport Research Laboratory, working on behalf of the DfT, sent out a report stating that a change to 4-2-2 would ‘only’ see an extra 16-30 road deaths a year. Why has there been such a change in these numbers? We need to know exactly what we are dealing with for the sake of the public’s safety. We are talking about lives being lost as a result of this move.”
The RMI are understandably against the changes as a major portion of their business clearly comes from MOTs and fixing the problems that cause vehicles to fail, and there is evidence that record numbers of cars and vans are failing the test, according to the RMI.
Whilst some of the numbers are undoubtedly down to service intervals being skimped on by owners, rather more worrying is the tendency of nearly new cars to fail their very first MOT.
According to figures released by VOSA a couple of years ago, 28% of Renault Meganes and nearly 25% of Peugeot 307s and Vauxhall Corsas failed to sail through their first inspection. Ford’s Transit and Connect were also poor performers, although vans arguably get a harder life than cars.
Whether the predicted increase in the numbers of unsafe cars and vans poses any real threat to riders is a moot point, but what strikes me is that any change in biking legislation that suggested a rise in fatalities would be instantly rejected.