An estimated 11.6 million UK motorists have forgotten to MOT their cars before the previous certificate had expired, according to new research. And the study found that one in six drivers is a repeat offender, having been guilty of this multiple times in the past.

A survey of more than 2,000 Brits found that 29 percent confessed to having failed to send their car for a re-test before their last MOT expired, meaning they had been on the road illegally. Assuming the respondents to the Kwik Fit study were representative of the British public in general, that could mean as many as 11.6 million of us have been guilty of this.

The study also revealed the reasons behind drivers’ rule-breaking. Of those who admitted to missing the deadline, more than four in 10 (42 percent) said simple forgetfulness was the cause. However, almost a quarter (23 percent) said they couldn’t afford the work needed to get the car through its test. Other motorists blamed not having made a note of the MOT expiry date (21 percent) and not being reminded by their garage (16 percent).

Mechanic using a tablet to perform MOT inspection

Furthermore, the study revealed that although about a quarter (24 percent) of drivers only used their car without a valid MOT for three days or less, they are in the minority. In fact, the average length of time for which drivers used their cars without an MOT certificate was 66.2 days - more than six months.

Driving a car without a valid MOT on the public road is illegal, unless the vehicle is driving to or from a pre-booked MOT test. Offenders risk a fine of £1,000 or, if the vehicle is deemed to be in a dangerous condition, fines could come up to £2,500.

MOT service sign on British road

“It is concerning to see that people are knowingly or unwittingly driving a vehicle which could pose a danger to them or other road users,” said Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit. “Allowing a vehicle’s MOT to expire is not only potentially dangerous, there is also the chance of a significant financial penalty and in some cases, it could cost someone their licence.

“We understand that people have busy lives and MOT dates can slip off the calendar or a ‘to do’ list. 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.”