The mainstream media are reporting that Grant Shapps floated the idea of an MoT test every two years, rather than annually, at a Cabinet meeting.
Shapps sees the idea as a vote-winner playing the money saving angle during a time of organised price inflation. But some say it is likely to lead to more accidents due to neglected tyres, brakes and suspension parts of course. Many car repair specialists and road safety experts on Twitter have already criticised the idea. But is that true? Does a two year car safety test automatically lead to more accidents on the roads, or are most accidents actually caused by drivers making bad decisions, racing on the public roads or consuming drugs and alcohol before driving?
A two year vehicle safety check is the norm in Germany, some States in the USA, the Netherlands and Ireland. In addition, many EU and other countries require no vehicle safety inspection until a new car it is four – or even five – years old, not three, as in the UK.
Anyone who has driven, or ridden a motorcycle in Germany will know that there is a high standard of driving, higher speeds on the autobahns and the most recent statistics do not show a high percentage of accidents caused by vehicle component failure, bald tyres etc. The TUV inspection is more detailed than anything in the UK MoT, can take up to four hours to carry out and tests things like electronic systems and accessories too. More info here by the way.
It does cost more, at 130 euros or so, in which case a two year MoT would probably cost about the same as twice the current MoT test, whoch is £55. Assuming the UK test was as in-depth as the TUV one of course.
DOES THE DATA MATCH THE THEORY?
Research published in 2020 looked at the fatality rate on German roads in 2019, just before lockdown. The data shows a long term trend in accident reduction, despite the 2-year TUV test (roughly equivalent to the UK MoT) being the norm for decades. Here’s an extract;
Germany recorded 3,046 road fatalities in 2019 – a 7% decrease on 2018. The mortality rate stands at 3.7 traffic deaths per 100 000 persons. Since 2000, the number of road deaths has declined for all age groups, except for those above 75 years of age. Elderly German road users now form the age group at highest risk in traffic.
The German report noted that the biggest contributory factors in serious accidents were driver error, plus influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to a study in Ireland, carried out in 2016, about 12% of some 858 fatal road accidents were caused by a vehicle defect. Out of that, the biggest issue was tyres, with over or under inflation, or lack of tread being the most common factors. An annual MoT will only detect incorrect tyre pressue ON THAT DAY of course, not the other 364.
INSURERS CAN USE DATA TO CHECK DRIVER ATTITUDES TO SAFETY
Insurance companies are now using data to check the vehicle history in more detail. Who owned it, factory recalls – and whther they were carried out – how many times a driver took out insurance and cancelled it within 30 days, how often it is serviced, how often ADAS systems were activated on automated braking, lane change alerts, location, favourite routes used and so on.
By using shared data from smartphones, insurance brands can easily check on which drivers are looking after their cars, vans and motorcycles by having them serviced. That is a much more pro-active way to segregate the safer road users from the boy racers in the long run.
Edmund King from the AA told Sky News that “One in six failures were on brakes last year, no on safety grounds it’s not the best solution.” King also added that he thought it might increase car insurance costs, although it’s hard to see how, since a two year test in the Netherlands or Germany does not affect their premiums.
Commenting on the suggestion that vehicle MOTs could take place every two years, rather than annually, RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes said:
“The purpose of an MOT is to ensure vehicles meet a basic level of safety for driving on our roads. Shifting it from annually to every two years would see a dramatic increase in the number of unroadworthy vehicles and could make our roads far less safe.”