The opinions of AA spokesman Edmund King’s are often sought as a representative of the motoring public spokesman on behalf the motorist and his common sense views are always a welcome counterpoint to anti-car minorities.
His recent remark that the chancellor should not regard the motorist as a travelling wallet by raising fuel duty was typical.
But when it was put to him on Radio 4 that research in the US suggested that an annual MoT was unnecessary and that extension to four years did not occasion an increase in accidents, he was disappointingly dismissive – “the Americans can’t tell us anything about road safety,” he snapped.
Maybe so, but evidence from France and Germany which also have four year MoTs was said to be similar. Again Mr King waved this aside, adding for good measure, that the UK MoT was also a factor in keeping the most polluting cars off the road.
But what exactly is our definition of pollution when inner London is poised to ban all but Euro 6 diesel vehicles in April 2019 with a dozen other cities set to follow in 2021-2?
We have all seen, and had to breathe, the smoke from not even ten-year-old diesel cars and vans as they accelerate, yet 95% of them presumably have a valid MoT certificate.
Instead of a flat denial, would not a more intelligent position be to say that as both car technologies and build standards have evolved enormously, it would be logical at least to revisit a test regime compiled piecemeal over forty years.
This is not to suggest that the private motorist could or should be subject to the three month inspection regime which applies to HGVs. Nevertheless a study of the frequency and main causes of MoT failure on newer cars might well be revealing in terms of the necessity of the test at three years.
This would also open the way to review the exhaust emission levels currently permissable: it is no coincidence that despite having far from the oldest car parc, the UK has some of the most polluted city centres in Europe.
The London ULEZ ban affects pre Euro 6 diesels – that is cars and vans pre 2016 – and pre Euro 4 petrols – pre 2006.
On 25 October 2021 it is due to be extended from the congestion zone to cover the entire area within the north and south circular roads. London will not be alone.
Many motorists are in for a shock and an outdated MoT is surely in part to blame.
Kieron Fennelly | Joint VC WGMW