The MOT extension scheme is about to end - here's what drivers need to know

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The six-month MOT extension granted to British drivers since March is coming to an end, with drivers urged to make sure their vehicles are safe and legal to avoid a fine and potential prosecution.

From August 1, mandatory vehicle testing will be reinstated in England, Scotland and Wales as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased.

The Government introduced the exemption in March as strict restrictions limited people’s movements to only essential travel. It automatically granted a six-month extension to any MOT pass certificate due to expire on or after March 30.

The legislation was initially due to remain in place for 12 months but the DfT has now said it will be removed early, with testing returning to normal from August 1.

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It said the move would help ensure that vehicles were in a safe condition and follows calls to end the scheme early as millions of motorists returned to the road following the easing of lockdown.

Announcing the change, Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from August 1 MOT testing will again become mandatory.

“Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”

The changes affect any vehicle with a MOT due to expire on or after August 1. Drivers with a vehicle due an MOT before August 1 will still be granted the six-month extension but are being reminded that they must still keep their car in a roadworthy condition or face a fine and possible prosecution.

The DfT has urged drivers to book their test well in advance to ensure that they can secure a slot in time and has encouraged anyone with an MOT extension to consider voluntarily having their vehicle testing before the extension runs out. According to its data, 90 per cent of test centres are now open and testing capacity has reached 70 per cent.

Responding to the announcement RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes said it had come at the right time.

He said: “Extending MOT tests was the right short-term measure after a number of garages closed when all of us were asked to stay at home. But with many more garages now open and with the easing of movement restrictions, it makes perfect sense that cars due their MOTs are put through the test on time.

“If the extension were to continue for very much longer there is a risk of many more unroadworthy vehicles being driven, especially as traffic volumes increase – which is clearly in nobody’s interests.”

Test centres have been open even as drivers have been granted an extension (Photo: Shutterstock)

Roger Griggs, communications director for Kwik Fit, added: “We welcome the Government’s announcement that it is ending the MOT extension policy from 1 August.

“Our data has shown that for every week the extension remains in place, more than 150,000 unroadworthy vehicles are being given a free pass, with around a third of those having dangerous defects. It is vital for road safety that these cars receive a physical check as soon as possible – we urge drivers not to rely on an automatic extension, especially as everyone starts to clock up more miles as the lockdown is eased.”

Andy Randall, managing director of Halfords Autocentres commented: “Halfords have been engaging with the DfT over recent weeks and welcome this step by government, which is extremely positive for road safety. We firmly believe the MOT test is still the best way to ensure vehicles are safe to drive.

“Our research in recent weeks showed 45% of motorists were concerned about the condition of other vehicles yet only 2% felt there might be an issue with their own, indicating a worrying false sense of security may have been taking hold for many drivers.”

This article first appeared on The Scotsman