The number of cars on UK roads that have missed their MOT by more than three weeks has tripled during the last six months.
MOT extensions granted in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’s first lockdown period, and additional flexibility offered to motorists, could be to blame for the trend, according to Kwik-Fit, which made the discovery.
The national fast-fit operation’s latest MOT data found that one-in-eleven drivers (9%) booking their MOT test in the last half year only did so three or more weeks after their current MOT had run out, compared to a figure of just 3% in the whole of 2019.
There has also been a similar increase in the number of drivers planning ahead, however, with Kwik stating that the number of drivers booking their test five or more weeks in advance of their expiry date has also tripled.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “It may be a result of the MOT extension or people having greater flexibility of when to book their MOT but the booking pattern has become much more spread out.
“We are seeing many more drivers plan in advance, and get their MOT sorted well ahead of its expiry, which is great news.”
But Griggs added: “Unfortunately, we are also seeing a big increase in owners not getting their car tested until three or more weeks after it has become illegal to drive.
“This is especially dangerous at the moment as people will not have been driving their cars as much over the last year.
“As a result, any safety issues may not be as apparent to them as they would be with more frequent use of their car.”
Kwik-Fit’s data on late MOTs comes in spite of a survey which suggests many motorists believe there should be tougher penalties for those who fail to have their vehicles MOT carried out in a timely fashion.
Research among 2,002 motorists, carried out for Kwik Fit by Opinium Research, found that 26% of car owners think the authorities should have the powers to impound a car if it is being driven without a valid MOT.
This figure rises to more than a third (35%) of people in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Kwik-Fit said that 14% of respondents indicated that those stopped in a car with an expired MOT should face a driving ban of at least six months, while 12% think that the courts should be able to impose fines of up to £2,000.
Earlier this year garages across the UK were being advised to communicate with customers that vehicle repair and MOT services will remain open under COVID-19 'Lockdown 3' restrictions.
The restrictions imposed on England and Scotland at the start of January mirror those seen during the first lockdown, but the Government said that MOT services would remain operational, unlike last year when MOT test centres were forced to close their doors, and drivers were granted a six-month MOT exemption from March 30, 2020.
The extension created a spike in the number of vehicles whose MOT expired in H2 last year, effectively doubling the number of tests required in September, October and November.