The number of drivers missing their MoT expiry date by more than three weeks tripled in the last six months of 2020, according to new figures. Data from Kwik Fit suggests motorists are becoming more likely to miss their MoT renewal, leaving them vulnerable to a fine and potentially impacting road safety.

Cars that are more than three years old must have an MoT test every year to determine whether they are still roadworthy. The test covers a number of key aspects of the vehicle, ensuring the car will not pose a danger to other road users or the driver. A valid MoT certificate is needed to drive a car on public roads.

When the first coronavirus lockdown was announced more than a year ago, however, the government quickly decided to bring in six-month MoT extensions that effectively extended the validity of MoT certificates from 12 to 18 months. The idea was to stop drivers travelling to MoT test centres, under the assumption that lockdown would reduce the miles cars covered and therefore cut the safety risk.

MOT service sign on British road

But the pandemic seems to have knocked some drivers out of step with their car’s MoT schedule. Kwik Fit says its research revealed one in eleven drivers (nine percent) of those who booked their MoT test in the final half of 2020 only did so three or more weeks after their current MoT had run out. That’s up from just three percent during the whole of 2019.

Yet despite this forgetfulness, it seems drivers also want extra punishments meted out for those who fail to renew their MoT on time. Kwik Fit’s survey of more than 2,000 drivers found 26 percent of car owners think the authorities should have the power to impound a car if it is being driven without a valid MoT. And 14 percent of UK motorists think those stopped in a car with an expired MoT should face a driving ban of at least six months.

“It may be a result of the MoT extension or people having greater flexibility of when to book their MoT but the booking pattern has become much more spread out,” said Kwik Fit communications director Roger Griggs. “We are seeing many more drivers plan in advance, and get their MoT sorted well ahead of its expiry, which is great news.

“Unfortunately, we are also seeing a big increase in owners not getting their car tested until three or more weeks after it has become illegal to drive. This is especially dangerous at the moment as people will not have been driving their cars as much over the last year. As a result, any safety issues may not be as apparent to them as they would be with more frequent use of their car.”

MOT test