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Scrap the Annual MoT for Passenger Cars

Comment 8th July 2010

Every passenger car in Britain is required by law to submit to an annual examination to ensure it is fit for purpose and is roadworthy. A sound idea, one would think. Unfortunately it is open to abuse by certain unscrupulous dealers and garages, which results in cars being unfairly scrapped.

In a society like ours, where so many businesses are under pressure to meet sales targets, the temptation to "modify the facts" has proven irresistable to many used-car dealers. They have only to promise "kick-backs" to some garages to have the annual MoT certification failed. Often such failure is synonymous with expensive repairs, which leaves the owner thinking it might be the better solution to scrap the car and replace it with a new, albeit used, model. This enables the dealer to meet targets and the garage to increase profits, whilst the car owner is, as usual, left paying out more money. This is not true of every used car dealer, but is certainly more common than one might think.

Scrapping the current legislation whereby the MoT certificate has to be renewed every year with a more sensible arrangement would go a long way toward improving the situation.

One option would be to require certification based on distance travelled. Thus a car used extensively for work or pleasure might require certification once a year; while a car used for once a fortnight shopping, and one or two mainland holidays need only be examined every three years or so.

It is interesting to note that in the European Union, where so many rules that adversely affect the British way of life are generated, their directive 96/96/EC of 20 December 1996 requires an examination once every two years.

Ireland, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore, to name just a few, are countries that also require cars to be certified as roadworthy every two years. There is no good reason to plague us with annual MoT certification.

Why does this matter?

It is important that the long-suffering British motorist be given at least some relief from the ridiculously high cost of motoring. It is equally important that the government realise that a car used six or seven days a week, one which travels 30 000 or more miles every year is obviously going to deteriorate quicker, in terms of roadworthiness, than a retired couple's car which may only do 3000 or so miles a year.

It is also important to understand that road traffic accidents, fatal or otherwise, are more often the result of bad driving than the result of unroadworthy cars.

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