A new set of EU directives regarding the vehicle MoT test comes into force in May, which will add new categories for passing or failing, with fault severity being defined by the tester. The move could affect a small number of claims, post accident, in future. The new classifications are Major and Dangerous – both failures – and Minor, which means an MoT pass.
The problem is that individual testers can classify the faults, not the law and this could lead to problems where a vehicle suffers an accident, and then it is discovered that it failed an MoT at one location, yet passed at another – was it safe to be on the road?
For example, claimants could argue that although a fault was identified as major by one tester, but classed as minor by another garage – and therefore passed the MOt – they were allowed to drive it perfectly legally, and so any damages may not be reduced in that case. It was up to the insurer to forbid the policyholder to drive a car that had failed any MoT, and did not have an alleged fault remedied. This should have been added to the policy terms and conditions.
The definition of what is, or is not, a major fault is always subjective and depends on the car’s typical use, driving style etc. For example a warped disc brake is not such a hazard on a Nissan Micra being used for shopping trips at 45mph, as it would be on an Audi R8 being driven to Germany for some fun on the autobahn, where the affected disc may swell due to excess heat and then lock the wheel at high speed.
You can see the potential here for lengthy court cases where a claim rests on asserting whether a party was negligent in their driving, or car maintenance, and conflicting MoT evidence is uncovered.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “While on the surface this change, which is part of an EU Directive due to come into force in May, seems like a sensible move we fear many motorists could end up being confused by the new categories which give an indication as to the seriousness of vehicle defects identified in an MOT test.
“Rather than MOT failures simply being black and white, the new system creates the potential for confusion as testers will have to make a judgement as to whether faults are ‘Dangerous’, ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’. This will surely be open to interpretation which may lead togreater inconsistency from one test centre to another.
“Motorists may also struggle to understand the difference between ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Major’ failures. The current system ensures that any vehicle with a fault that doesn’t meet the MOT requirements is repaired appropriately before being allowed back on the road.
“We should be doing all we can to make the vehicles on our roads as safe as possible rather introducing a new system which has the potential to do the opposite. We do not want to see a lowering of MOT standards and a reduction in the number of vehicles failing the test compared to current levels.”
“We understand the Government has little choice in the matter, but gut instinct says if the system isn’t broken, why mess with it. But if a car is broken, fix it.”