By Denna Bowman
Changing the MOT rules so that vehicles are tested for the first time when they are four years old and every two years thereafter have been condemned by a leading tyres organisation.
The National Tyre Distributors Association fears it could lead to an increase in accidents, injuries and fatalities on UK roads.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has suggested extending the interval between MOT tests from three years for the first test and every year thereafter.
The rationale behind the ideas is that car technology has advanced since the 1960s, when the rules were introduced, and that servicing periods have steadily lengthened.
However, Richard Edy, director of the the NTDA, the trade association for tyre dealers and fast-fits, argued that while cars have become more reliable, components such as tyres are still subject to constant wear.
Many drivers admit they do not inspect their tyres regularly – if at all – and for many, the annual MOT test is the only time that they are examined. Motorists also tend to regard an MOT pass as a green light for another 12 months of trouble-free motoring. Under the suggested 4.2.2. rule tyres could go two years between checks.
Figures from the Tyre Industry Federation show that 12% of tyres are illegal when they are replaced and, under the present 3.1.1. MOT system, there are already 2.3 million tyre-related MOT failures every year.
Edy said: “A move to 4.2.2. would inevitably lead to more tyre-related failures and an increase in accidents, injuries and fatalities. Already, 216 people are killed or seriously injured every year in cases where tyre defects are reported and this figure would be bound to rise.
“Tyres are a safety-critical component of a vehicle and the only things that keep a car on the road. You can have the best brakes in the world, but if the tyres are bald and the road is wet, then your car won’t stop.”
He added: “Practically everyone involved in the vehicle aftermarket is dead set against 4.2.2. Its introduction would seriously compromise safety on our roads – the trade doesn’t want it, the motoring public doesn’t want it and motoring organisations such as the AA and RAC are against it. I am at a loss to know why we are even considering the introduction of such a retrograde step.”