MOT Testing Magazine Editor debunks Minister’s MOT road death figures

  • Minister proposes to extend car’s first MOT to 4-years old
  • Supported by figures which are widely disputed and under-estimate road deaths and injuries
  • Increased air pollution is likely
  • Financial benefit to motorists “minimal” and could even result in net cost to public purse
  • No demand from the public to change MOT

The Government plan to defer vehicles’ first MOT by a year, and have published a consultation about it. In that document they say that it’s not going to have much effect on road safety, that it will save about £100M a year, and that 2.23 million motorists will benefit. They also brag about a wide range of recent road safety initiatives unconnected with the MOT, which have saved peoples lives.

Our editor, Jim Punter, and Chairman of the MOT Trade forum has taken a close look at what the Government have said on the subject, and disagrees with what they say.

Here’s what he says about the Government’s low estimate of resulting casualty increases arising from the proposed change:

“More people will die and be seriously injured as a result of the Government’s proposal than they suggest. The report they rely on to project casualties from reduced MOT Testing is, in its author’s own words, “limited in scope”, and had it included vehicles identified as ‘dangerous to drive’, and the accumulative effect of defects over two years, the report would “likely” have estimated higher road casualties.

“Strangely the Department for Transport’s own earlier extensive report on the same subject, estimating significantly higher deaths and serious injuries should the proposal take effect, was ignored in the consultation.”

On ‘dangerous to drive vehicles’, Punter has recently obtained figures from DVSA, noting:

“…last year when three year old vehicles were first MOT Tested, nearly 12,000 had defects noted by MOT Testers as ‘dangerous to drive’. Vehicles at four years old had over 11,000 such defects – so if there were a further year before those vehicles’ first MOT, up to 23,000 vehicles could potentially be on the roads, in a dangerous to drive condition”.

“I have also asked DVSA about the safety-related ‘advisory notes’ on vehicles MOT Tested at 3 and 4 years old. For both sets of MOT results, over 110,000 vehicles had an advisory on: tyres, steering, suspension or brakes – and there were almost two such items noted for every vehicle. The DfT’s consultation doesn’t even mention that!”

Punter also looked at the £100M saving claimed in the consultation, which turns out to be something of an overestimate. Here he says:

“Although the DfT claim there’s a saving of £100M, that figure fails to consider the cost to the rest of society from the additional road accidents the proposal would cause. Taking the average outcomes from the report in the consultation, and the DfT’s own estimates of additional road deaths and injuries resulting from the proposal, at the least estimated casualties the saving drops to £59M and in the worst case it would cost taxpayers £23M a year – and by DfT’s own figures that could be up to £131M!”

So which motorists benefit? Here Punter’s findings are surprising. The DfT imply that ordinary motorists will benefit to the tune of £100M, not so, Punter again:

“…the Government imply that 2.23 million motorists will benefit from their proposed change – and remember these are supposedly people buying new vehicles. But that’s a disingenuous claim; nearly 60% of new vehicles are owned by businesses and corporations – only about 900,000 private motorists will benefit. But the rest of us, the whole population, will pick up the bill for the costs of additional road accidents caused; and all for a ‘once-off’ saving of less than £1 a week”.

“Yet nearly 1.25 million corporate owned vehicles, probably travelling high mileages and therefore requiring that MOT, will also be exempted for a further year. It doesn’t make sense!”

On air pollution Punter notes that the effect of vehicles having their first official emissions check deferred for a year could well increase air pollution. Here’s what he has to say:

“Almost every week we hear something about the effect of air pollution caused by motor vehicles. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution caused by vehicular traffic.”

“Yet by deferring the first MOT by a year means some polluting vehicles will be used on the roads for another whole year before the problem is detected and fixed. This flies in the face of the Government’s own policy on improving air quality. Again, this isn’t mentioned in the consultation”.

An aspect of the consultation that particularly irks Punter is a section of the consultation in which the Government list a wide range of road safety initiatives they have taken to improve road safety – yet all bar one are unconnected with the MOT. On this he draws a very interesting conclusion:

“…when the Government consult on a proposal they should explain what they intend to do, and the effect it will have. It is perverse that in this consultation to defer vehicles’ first MOT for a year they boast about numerous road safety steps they’ve taken to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the road, yet all except on of those initiatives is unconnected with the MOT.”

“There is a sinister and cynical message here. The Government, through the DfT, are suggesting that because those safety initiatives unconnected with the MOT have saved some lives, we can now afford to kill and seriously injure some more people on the roads to save some motorists less than £1 a week – are they serious?”

Finally, Punter concludes:

“It is of some moral concern that the Government, via the Department for Transport have suggested that a proposal, which even by their own significant underestimate of casualties would end up unecessarily killing up to three people every year and seriously injuring at least 19 people as well, should even be put to consultation”.

“There has been no groundswell of public opinion clamouring for the change. In fact it was a cynical ploy by George Osborne in his last budget to offset criticism for increasing the road tax on new low pollution emitting vehicles – and all for a ‘one-off’ meagre £45 (by DfT’s estimate) for just 900,000 motorists”.

“Yet in terms of suffering, some people, somewhere, now alive and well, perhaps even reading this, will either die or suffer life changing injuries should this change occur”.

“The proposal is inherently immoral, and the consultation supporting it is ill-informed, factually incorrect, significantly biased and both dishonest and disingenuous”.

We urge the motoring public to think about this and contact their respective MPs to oppose the proposal.

The BBC website explains how air pollution from vehicles shortens life expectancy here.

Link to extended critique of MOT 4-1-1 proposal here.

Related posts

Comment on this article