CEO responds to the government’s proposal to extend the period for first MOT test

Duncan Wilkes, CEO of Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd, responds to the Government’s proposal to extend the period for new cars and motorbikes to have their first MOT from the current three years to four years:

"Micheldever Tyre Services strongly opposes the government’s proposal. Motorists may rejoice at the prospect of a four year grace period until they require an MOT, but it would be a backwards step for road safety and a false economy.

It is incorrect to assume the test is irrelevant for new cars: Vosa’s own data indicates that 20% of three-year-old cars fail their MOT tests. This means that moving the first test to four years would result in an extra half a million unsafe cars on UK roads.

This number is less surprising when you consider that half of new cars are purchased and operated for their first three years by company car fleets – and so  typically accumulate a far higher annual mileage than the average privately owned car, even more so the car-derived vans that fall under this category. As current MOT failure rates demonstrate, by their third anniversary, it is entirely probable these vehicles will be exhibiting issues that significantly compromise their roadworthiness. The MOT is an incredibly cost effective way of reducing this risk.

UK drivers already have a worrying attitude towards tyre condition and this proposal places lives at risk. In the last five years, there have been 981 deaths or serious injuries resulting from accidents in which defective tyres were the lead contributing factor.

Data from a nationwide study by TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organization, conducted over a three month period this year, indicates that one in four cars have at least one tyre with a tread depth at or less than the legal limit of 1.6mm.

Our own data, collected over the last eight-years, paints a much darker picture: over half (56%) of the vehicles arriving at one of our Protyre centres do so with an illegal tyre. In 2008, this figure was just 15%.

The MOT test plays a significant role in removing excessively worn and illegal tyres from the UK car parc every year: of the 10 million MOT failures each year, a fifth are due to excessively worn or damaged tyres.

The fact is, while cars may be becoming increasingly reliable in general, drivers are not and safety-critical consumables (tyres, brake pads, wiper blades and bulbs) will still wear out.

In 2012, a cross-industry campaign group, ProMOTe, successfully lobbied against the then government’s proposal to change in the frequency of the MOT test, after proving that any change will only have the effect of increasing the number of defective and unsafe vehicles on the road, increasing accidents and deaths and increasing insurance premiums and the cost of repairs for the law-abiding motorist.

I therefore find it deeply concerning that the MOT is once again being treated as a political football by the Chancellor and Micheldever Tyre Services will therefore be working alongside our industry colleagues to lobby against this proposal."