Garage raises safety concerns over mooted biennial MOT testing in Northern Ireland

Published:  26 April, 2022

An Independent garage has voiced concerns over proposals to move to biennial MOT testing following a Call for Evidence by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Liam Hardy of independent garage Hardy Bros Cars, based in Ballymena said: “Looking at the vehicles we see in our workshop every day, an increase in MOT test frequency would result in even more vehicles failing the safety inspection, posing a significant threat to road safety and the general public.

“The current system in Northern Ireland means that some motorists use the test as a means of bypassing vehicle service and maintenance schedules, instead using the test as a means of vehicle diagnosis. The danger here is evident and so an extended test frequency will see more unsafe vehicles on Northern Ireland’s roads.”

The possible extension of the MOT test frequency has been looked at many times before elsewhere and each time plans have been scrapped on the grounds of safety. While a backlog of testing remains, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – who oppose any extension – has said “every driver has a responsibility to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy.”

The rise in vehicle MOT failure rates in Northern Ireland seriously brings into focus the safety of motorists and other road users, automotive trade body IAAF has warned, and highlights the need to maintain an effective vehicle testing frequency.

While private individuals supported the change in frequency in the Call for Evidence, they did not give any clear reason to support this stance. Mark Field, IAAF Chief Executive, believes the MOT test infrastructure problems will have clouded this response: “The Northern Ireland MOT test infrastructure problems are well-documented and it has been incredibly difficult for motorists to book a test. This, coupled with the increasing test and re-test failure rate, would explain why motorists favour a change in frequency, in order to avoid the hassle and expense of booking a test. This is not, therefore, a time to interfere with roadworthiness standards and instead we should look to strengthen the MOT testing process and motorists’ understanding of it.”

The most common failures of MOT tests are lights, tyres, drivers view of the road and brakes, all of which contribute to the safety of the driver and those around them. The next stage of the process is a public consultation, as any change in frequency will require new legislation.

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