Rising MOT failure rates in Northern Ireland should highlight the safety implications of any extension to the time between tests, the Independent Automotive Aftermarket (IAAF) has warned amid plans to move to biennial MOT testing.
It follows confirmation from Infrastructure Minister for the Driver & Vehicle Agency, Nichola Mallon that Northern Ireland is to take “the next steps” on a move to biennial MOT testing.
Currently in Northern Ireland, private cars and motorcycles are first MOT tested at four years old and light goods vehicles under 3,500kg are first tested at three years old – each of those vehicle categories are tested annually thereafter.
However, some 85 per cent of individual respondents in favour of an introduction of biennial testing for cars, light goods vehicles and motorcycles, according to an official summary following a recent Call for Evidence.
The IAAF warns that while private individuals supported the change in frequency, they did not give any clear reason to support this stance.
Mark Field, IAAF chief executive, said: “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.”
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 the MOT test interval 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 interval will see more unsafe vehicles on Northern Ireland’s roads.”
The next stage of the biennial MOT testing proposals for Northern Ireland is a public consultation.