Drivers warned they still face prosecution as MOT test exemptions are extended

A man walks past a garage offering free MOT's for all NHS (National Health Service) staff on 23th April 2020 in London, United Kingdom.There have been almost 133,495 reported cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United Kingdom and almost 19,000 deaths. The country is in its fifth week of lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. (photo by Claire Doherty/In Pictures via Getty Images)
A man walks past a garage offering free MOT's for all NHS staff (Picture: Getty)

Drivers have been warned they still face prosecution if their cars are not roadworthy as MOT test exemptions were extended for six months.

All cars, vans and motorcycles have been granted the extension from 30 March due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said motorists still had a responsibility to maintain their cars or they could be liable.

He said: “With the UK Government now outlining a roadmap out of lockdown, ministers have signalled that the six-month extension is under review.”

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Mechanic, technician man check the car engine in garage. Car service, repair, fixing, checking maintenance working with socket wrench at workshop. Inspection vehicle concept Car mechanic using spanner examining automobile at repair service station.
RAC said it was the responsibility of drivers to make sure their vehicle was roadworthy (Picture: Getty)

Mr Lyes added: “However, it is worth remembering that it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that their vehicle is roadworthy at all times and the police can and will prosecute, even if the vehicle has a valid MOT.

“More garages are opening so our message to drivers is that if you are comfortable doing so, consider taking your car for a service and for its MOT even if the latter’s due date has been extended.”

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Peers have warned the MOT extension could lead to more accidents as defects which would have been picked up in a test go undetected.

Opposition spokesman Lord Rosser said there must be “potential safety issues” in allowing vehicles that would not pass their next test to remain on the road for a further six months.

He said it was not good enough for the government to say users were still required by law to ensure their vehicles were in good working order.

Lord Rosser said: “There will apparently be millions of light vehicles potentially on the road that would have failed their scheduled MOT test had it taken place.”

He added more than 16 million MOTs were due to expire over the first six months of the order and around 4.9 million vehicles would have received a “dangerous” or “major” failure.

He said the one-off six-month exemption increased the “likelihood of accidents or incidents due to vehicle defects”.

People had been urged to stay at home but that instruction had changed on Sunday with the easing of restrictions, and she asked if the change to MOT tests was now needed.

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Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton defended the regulations, saying the aim was to reduce the risk of people being exposed to COVID-19, and helping them comply with the stay at home guidance.

The government had urged garages to remain open to carry out essential maintenance and repairs.

About 60% of garages had done so and MOT testing was still taking place, she told peers.

Despite peers’ concerns, the Motor Vehicles (Tests) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 were approved without a vote.

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