This is not new. The same subject, was thoroughly reviewed over an extended period between 2005 ending in November 2008 when the then Secretary of State for Transport, in consultation with Cabinet colleagues, concluded that it would risk a totally unacceptable increase in road deaths and serious injuries as well as an unacceptable increase in cost to the economy.
Nothing has changed since that analysis by the Department for Transport, the most comprehensive on the subject ever undertaken. The key road safety conclusions of which were:
Moving to 4-2-2 would risk an additional annual 400 road deaths (+18% over a record low of 2,222) per year (DfT)
4-2-2 would risk an additional 2,500 serious injuries per year (DfT)
It should also be noted that moving to 4-2-2 MOT Testing would have other deleterious consequences:
Currently motorists are buying fewer new vehicles and reducing servicing/repairs on existing vehicles for economic reasons, posing a greater threat to road safety than in 2007/8 when that review was completed and Government rejected 4-2-2 in 2008.
The MOT failure rate, now 37% in 2009/10, compared to 33.3% in 2006/07 dispels the myth that modern vehicles with better reliability and extended warranties need not be tested so frequently.
4-2-2 testing would mean an incremental annual cost to society of approximately £1.4 billion, as follows:
Incremental road deaths & injuries: £1,508mm (DfT)
Incremental cost of 40,000 lost jobs
@ £12,000 per head: £480mm (trade est.)*
Less motorist annual MOT saving: £621mm (DfT)**
Net cost on median scenario: £1,367 mm
If 4-2-2 is introduced, year 1 fail defects which remain undetected will cause secondary defects by year 2 costing the motorist significantly more to repair as well as further threatening road safety e.g.;
Faulty steering components causing tyre wear
Worn brake pads causing damage to discs
The MOT represents an insignificant fraction of the annual cost of running a car.
Garages see, on a daily basis, serious defects currently picked up by the MOT Test many of which, would almost certainly result in catastrophic failure if undetected.
The DfT’s 2008 ‘Evidence Based Review’ into the outcomes of changing the periodicity of MOT Testing was exceptionally comprehensive. Accepting that it is impossible to accurately predict the precise annual increase in deaths and serious injuries, it is reasonable to suppose that these figures do provide at the very least a strong guide to potential outcomes. The unequivocal (and common sense) conclusion is that reducing vehicle safety inspections, inevitably results in increased death and injuries on the roads, to an unacceptable level.
Modern car design, durability, reliability and extended manufacturer warranties have little bearing on the MOT. Key safety critical items, such as lights, braking, steering and tyres are not covered by warranty and by their nature require annual inspection and frequent replacement. Deferring the test one year will only increase the risk these vehicles pose and swell the failure numbers.
For older cars, with motorists hit with spiralling costs, many will cut back on their servicing so an annual MOT inspection becomes even more critical in managing the number of unsafe cars on the road.
Currently under 3-1-1 the UK tops the list of European member states with the best road safety record. If the UK is top in road safety, then why are we entertaining adopting the European 4-2-2 system? There is nothing in the public interest to be gained by reopening this issue – the serious threat it poses to road safety and the substantial cost burden to the economy remain.
* assumes 40% of 100,000 trade jobs lost
** high probability discounting would cease and actual saving would be much smaller
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Manufacturers of portable brake test meters (decelerometers)