4-1-1 MOT Consultation – government spin and ‘alternative facts’

Road accident, crashed cars

The Government have published their proposal to defer a vehicle’s first MOT inspection until it is four years old (4-1-1 MOT Testing). The consultation document is filled with distortions, misinformation and serious omissions. It sets out to mislead and deceive motorists and the general public, it is a proposal that must be challenged.

Misleading, misinformed, irrelevant, incomplete and incorrect…

DfT’s consultation document is factually wrong, misleading and biased. In fact, there’s so much that is wrong, it is hard to know where to start, but here are some key issues where DfT’s information is incorrect, incomplete, blatantly misleading or irrelevant:

Road accident, crashed cars
With safety-critical systems – brakes, suspension, headlamp aim – not being checked for another year over and above the current limit, it is inevitable that accidents will occur, as confirmed  by DfT’s own analysis.

DfT say: Vehicles have become, “…more resilient to wear and tear…” There is no evidence to support that statement. Brake pads and shoes still wear out, as do tyres. Road springs fail more frequently these days (as roads remain unrepaired). All are road safety sensitive items.

The DfT use a Transport Research Laboratory report’s findings to support their contention on there being at most 2.75 extra road deaths a year with 4-1-1. That report, originally published to justify 4-2-2 Testing, was shown to be limited in scope, its lead author Richard Cuerden agreeing with critical points we raised when it was originally circulated, saying:

…we broadly agree with your comments with respect to the number of defects and the number of dangerous defects which have not been accounted for… if they had been it is likely that more casualties would have been predicted.” He also added, “However, it must be stressed that these are estimates only and further work would be required before a genuine quantification of the scale of these adverse road safety impacts will be known”.

Given the report author’s own reservations, why does DfT disingenuously use the report as a basis to justify a step which will kill and seriously injure more people?

The DfT’s own report from 2008 showed that there would be a minimum of 55 additional road deaths as a result of deferring the first MOT by a year, as well as 332 serious injuries – why wasn’t that report also referred to in this Consultation?

The document says the saving will be good for “fleet operators”, without noting that these are the very vehicles subject to extremely high mileage during their first three years of life, and the ones most likely to have road safety sensitive defects when three years old.

The ‘supporting evidence’ on road safety in the consultation is immaterial to MOT Testing. It cites improved road safety from new traffic laws on mobile telephones, drug driving, driving test improvements, and safer autonomous vehicles. DfT are saying, “look we’re saving lives with these other things, so its OK to ‘spend’ a few of those saved deaths by deferring the first MOT by a year. Disgraceful!
There are so many more arguments against this irresponsible and foolhardy plan, that there’s not enough space here to go into them all, but we will in due course be publishing a comprehensive critique on our website.


So why are the Government proposing this? There’s no groundswell of public opinion clamouring for this change. It will reduce road safety, saving a mere £1 a week for a few motorists buying new cars! It’s not needed, nor is it ‘asked for’ by the general public. It’s about saving face after Osborne’s budget speech, which proposed consultation for 4-1-1 Testing as a ‘one off’ sop for a minority of motorists buying new cars whose road tax was increased. Government should be ashamed!

Protest, and loudly!

It is essential that everybody in the MOT industry must challenge this proposal. Write to your MP, tell your friends and family – this is not so much about the cost to the MOT industry, which is deplorable, but also about not killing and seriously injuring more people on the roads, for no good reason at all! (see also February 2017 issue of MOT Testing Magazine).

How recent ‘Dangerous to Drive’ figures seriously undermine the government’s already flawed case for extending a car’s first MOT Test to when it it four years old:

Jim Punter’s ‘Critique’ of the consultation here [PDF]


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