The government will reintroduce mandatory MOT testing from tomorrow (1 August) in line with gradually easing lockdown restrictions and rising traffic levels.
Drivers had been given a six-month extension of their vehicle’s MOT certificate to discourage non-essential travel and free up garages for repair work to essential workers’ vehicles. The scheme was set to run until March 2021 but will now end this weekend.
From tomorrow onwards, drivers must have their car’s roadworthiness tested within a year of their last test. Irrespective of whether the extension applies, penalties still apply to vehicles found to be in an unsafe condition.
Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that the UK’s service sector has ramped up as restrictions on travel have eased. As of 29 June, more than 90% of UK garages were operating and testing capacity was already at 70% of normal levels.
Baroness Vere, roads minister, said last month: "As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1 August MOT testing will again become mandatory.
“Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”
Any vulnerable or self-isolation drivers are advised to contact their local garage, as many are offering vehicle collection and drop-off services to aid social distancing.
The majority of UK garages are conducting MOT tests, and drivers have been able to have their car tested voluntarily throughout the lockdown. Any MOT certificate issued after the original date of expiry will only be valid until that date the following year.
Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garages Association - which has campaigned for the government to lift the extenstion - welcomed the announcement but expressed concern about the safety of many cars on UK roads following the extension of the scheme throughout July. "This is a welcome retraction of a policy doubtless designed to provide relief to motorists", he said. "However, this additional month will allow at least 1 million unroadworthy cars to remain on the road for an additional six months, as well as the 1.6 million dangerous vehicles that have already had their MOT extended.
“With road traffic increasing, people being encouraged to use their cars rather than public transport, and further lockdown measures easing on 4 July, we believe this additional month will leave a number of motorists with an accumulation of faults and repair costs when they are least able to afford them. Even though this scheme has only been in place for four months, it has detrimented the roadworthiness of many cars, taken away the bread and butter of the independent garage sector and left a great number of consumers confused."