Major MOT test backlog forces drivers to wait six months amid fears of 'detrimental' safety impact

Major MOT test backlog forces drivers to wait six months amid fears of 'detrimental' safety impact

WATCH: Bev Turner SLAMS 'war on motorists'

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 18/04/2024

- 09:54

Updated: 18/04/2024

- 10:47

MOT test centres have been slow to recover after the pandemic

Drivers have been warned of major backlogs in MOT testing stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, with some motorists forced to wait as long as six months.

Motorists in Northern Ireland have been left stranded waiting for MOT tests which have failed to recover from the pandemic as more people risk being fined for driving an unsafe car.

Drivers have been urged to check that their vehicle tax is still valid as they wait for an MOT as without this, they are unable to use their car.

The Drivers and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland launched a new form which allows people to request an urgent MOT test to help assist those who cannot get a test booked in time before their car tax expires.

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MOT test

Nearly 400,000 MOT tests were conducted last year in Northern Ireland


However, some drivers have faced difficulties when trying to use the form, with many taking to social media to vent their frustration.

One user claimed: “Get an MOT booked then check for cancellations each morning at 9am and lunchtime about 1.30-2pm as that’s when they normally load the appointments to the website.

“Also, if you have a test booked and provide the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition, you’ll get no grief from the police, just make sure your tax doesn’t run out before the MOT as you can’t tax the car without a valid MOT and you can’t drive a car without valid tax!”

Another user said: “It's horrendous. I had to go on about 20 times over a two week period and I eventually found a date that must have been a cancellation. Just keep trying.”

The problems with getting an MOT test have been flagged by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) Northern Ireland which warned the issues are intolerable.

Sue Robinson, chief executive of NFDA, said productive conversations were taking place as experts try to minimise the impact on Northern Ireland’s automotive industry.

She added: “One common theme that repeatedly cropped up amongst discussions was the ongoing issues surrounding the existing MOT regime and the current intolerable backlog.”

The organisation raised concerns around road and vehicle safety as a result of the delays highlighting that the longer the waiting time, the more likely vehicle defects will develop.

Last year, Northern Ireland had the highest annual number of deaths on roads in eight years with NFDA stating “pre-emptive” measures like MOTs can help catch vehicle defects before an accident happens.

Another problem raised by the association surrounds capacity issues, as garages don’t have the space or staff to deal with the huge proportion of vehicle testing needed.

Robinson added: “NFDA-NI have repeatedly brought to the forefront the unacceptable state of the current MOT regime in Northern Ireland and emphasised that urgent action is needed from Stormont.

“This issue has reached a critical juncture and is having a detrimental impact on road/vehicle safety and the reputation of dealerships whilst the capacity is simply not there to tackle the growing backlog.


MOT test

The MOT test backlog could see drivers waiting months for a test


“We urge Stormont to work with us and key stakeholders within the industry to review the MOT regime, aiming for greater efficiency that benefits both consumers and dealers whilst upholding road/vehicle safety with paramount importance.”

Nearly 400,000 MOT tests were conducted last year for private cars and light goods vehicles.

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