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Motorists failing the MOT memory test

MOT testing station

Millions of drivers are at risk of being slapped with a fine, penalty points or even a driving ban for driving a car in a dangerous condition.

Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, found that over 11.6 million drivers had not taken their car for its MOT before the previous one had expired.

Around one in ten of those drivers (1.12 million) admit to being repeat offenders, having done this six or more times. Worryingly, this appears to be an increasing trend – drivers aged 18-34 are five times more likely to be one of these serial offenders than drivers aged over 55.

According to the study, over 1.4 million drivers said that the main reason why they didn’t get their car MOTed before the previous one had expired was because they couldn’t afford the work it would need to gain a pass. However, this could be a very costly decision.

Driving without a current MOT carries a fine of up to £1,000, while using a car deemed to be in dangerous condition could have drivers paying out up to £2,500, being hit with three penalty points or even a driving ban if it’s a repeat offence.

Simple forgetfulness is the most common reason given by drivers for allowing a MOT to lapse (42%), followed by not having a note of the expiry date (21%) and their garage not reminding them (16%). London cars are most likely to be driven with an expired MOT, with 63% of drivers in the capital admitting to having done this, compared to the UK average of 29%.

The research for Kwik Fit found that while around a quarter of drivers (24%) used their car without a valid MOT for 3 days or less, the average length of time drivers have driven illegally is more than two months (66.2 days).

What’s more – 29% of those who had forgotten their MOT was due had a moment of realisation and remembered without prompting from another source, while 13% found a document that alerted them and 10% realised when they tried to tax the vehicle.

“We understand that people have busy lives and MOT dates can slip off the calendar or a ‘to do’ list,” said Roger Griggs of Kwik Fit.

“To assist with this we have a reminder service people can sign up to, confirming a vehicle’s MOT due date.

“We would encourage drivers who don’t have a note of their expiry date to check it and get it marked in the calendar with plenty of time, to avoid any issues.

“March is a peak month for MOTs and so drivers should book as far in advance as possible to ensure they don’t end up driving illegally.”

When it comes to checking their vehicles before their MOT appointment, only half of all owners make any kind of preparation, with just 53% of drivers carrying out some basic checks ahead of taking their car to a garage.

Checks carried out by owners before taking car for MOT

Car check % of drivers who complete this ahead of MOT
Check all lights are working 38%
Check tyre tread depth 34%
Check wiper blades 32%
Check tyre condition (e.g. splits, nails) 31%
Check all dashboard warning lights 30%
Check mirrors are all functioning 27%
Test horn is working 23%
Check brake fluid levels 21%

Source: Research for Kwik Fit, 2020

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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