Motorists in Britain are being urged to sign up for an MOT reminder service after millions had their test due dates changed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency highlighted that today marks 12 months since the coronavirus-related MOT exemption was made available to motorists - under which almost 10 million vehicles had their tests pushed back.
From March 30 to the end of July last year, as lockdown measures restricted movement, all cars, vans and motorcycles in Britain were eligible for an exemption from an MOT for a six-month period.
MOT warning: The DVSA has said that the 10million motorists who used the Government's six-month MOT exemption issued at the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown could potentially forget when their next test is due
The agency said those who did use the test extension should sign up for its free reminder service.
This will send vehicle owners an email or text a month before their MOT due date to help them remember to arrange a test.
As MOT exemptions ended from 1 August last year, 15 per cent of vehicles were late for their MOT, the DVSA said, but by December this had risen to almost a third (over 28 per cent).
Chris Price, the DVSA's head of MOT policy, said: 'We know lots of vehicle owners are unsure about when their test is this year. So our free MOT reminder service offers peace of mind they won't miss their test date.
'We're committed to helping people to keep their vehicles safe to drive. Signing up for an MOT reminder is a quick and easy way for motorists to do this.'
Vehicles must have an MOT on the third anniversary of their registration, and then every 12 months if they are more than three years old.
A number of vehicle parts are checked during an MOT to ensure they meet legal standards.
Motorists can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.
Drivers can sign up for a free MOT reminder service from the DVSA (Ian Nicholson/PA)
Despite the DVSA's warning, a YouGov poll commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman has found that, despite nearly 10 million exemptions being issued in 2020, the majority (89 per cent) of drivers said that they knew the expiry date of their vehicle’s annual certificate, an unexpected positive result from the extension.
The survey of 1,303 UK drivers who own a car that is three or more years of age, showed that men are marginally more likely to know than their female counterparts when their MOT certificate expires (92 per cent versus 87 per cent).
In addition, the findings revealed, encouragingly, that awareness of the deadline was consistently high across all age groups and regions in the country.
Only around one in ten drivers (11 per cent) were unable to recall the expiry date of their car’s MOT, thereby putting them at greater risk of incurring a fine and invalidating their insurance.
The DVSA announced the MOT test exemption on 30 March 2020 as the public were first told to stay home to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. The 6-month extension was planned to be available to drivers for 12 months but was ended from the end of July
Commenting on the findings of the study, Bill Fennell, managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: 'With the six-month extension changing the natural rhythm of when people would have traditionally got their MOT done, it is encouraging to see that such an important annual assessment remains at the forefront of people’s minds and a key date in the diary for so many.
'Nevertheless, when our lives do return to some degree of normality in the coming months as lockdown restrictions are lifted, it’s still advisable for motorists to sign up for free MOT reminders and have the car’s documentation readily available to jog their memory if needed, so that they can make a booking ahead of time.'
He added: 'The annual test is such a critical part of vehicle maintenance and staying safe and legal when at the wheel, so it really is a date that can’t be left to chance.'
The DVSA has also warned today that there are other ways in which drivers could be affected this year.
It said motorists may not have received an MOT certificate confirming their new test date due to garages not printing them during the pandemic unless necessary.
Other motorists may have bought another vehicle which had an exemption or some could have taken their vehicle off the road, the agency added.
To sign up for the MOT reminder drivers should visit www.gov.uk/mot-reminder, where they will need to provide their vehicle registration number and an email address or phone number.
Launched in 2018, the service has recorded more than three million cumulative sign-ups, the DVSA said.