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COVID-19 lockdown extension ‘no excuse’ for lower MOT standards

Steve Nash, chief executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has said that the DVSA’s MOT extension is “no excuse” for lower test standards or compromised road safety.

The chief executive of the automotive sector’s training body, Steve Nash, was speaking to AM in response to the findings of a What Car? article which suggested one-in-seven MOT passes should have been failures – resulting in a possible 2.9 million faulty vehicles on UK roads.

What Car? magazine showed that the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency’s (DVSA) MOT Compliance Survey (2019-2020) had uncovered shortcomings in test procedures which left vehicles with unidentified suspension, braking and lighting faults.  

The issues of MOT oversights came as the UK’s vehicle testing regime was placed under increased pressure due to the backlog of tests built-up during COVID-19 lockdowns.

But Nash said: “Unquestionably 2020 created major issues for the MOT sector – the MOT extension created a huge backlog which resulted in MOT Test Stations being inundated in the later part of 2020 and into early 2021.

“But that is no excuse for a drop in standards. Indeed, the pass requirements for MOT testers have actually risen significantly in the last year and whilst the IMI took a larger share of the market for MOT training and assessments this year, we also saw an increase in the number of MOT testers opting out of the mandatory annual assessment which we believe can be directly attributed to the higher standards required by the DVSA.

“Going forward, therefore, the drop in standards suggested by the What Car? investigation should be addressed.” data published earlier this year showed MOT bookings rose 160% year-on-year in April – a year on from the DVSA’s six-month MOT extension – as the aftermarket sector performed "ahead of expectations".

According to the data, the impact of the extension was mostly felt by garages in April and May, when a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DVSA by revealed MOT test numbers collapsed by 79% in April and 61% in May.

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