Drivers are concerned about a government proposal to tackle the cost-of-living crisis by extending MOT certificates to two years, according to new research. An RAC survey of more than 1,400 motorists revealed more than half think it will cause an increase in the number of unsafe cars on the road.

At present, cars need an MOT test three years after their first registration and every year thereafter. It currently costs a maximum fee of £54.80 for cars, though some garages charge less.

Some 55 percent of respondents told the RAC they thought extending the MOT period from one year to two years was a bad idea, while just under a quarter (23 percent) said they were unsure. Around a fifth (22 percent) of those quizzed said they thought the change was a good idea.

MOT testing station sign in the UK

Of those set against the plans, the overwhelming majority (98 percent) thought there would be more unsafe vehicles on the road as a result, while 20 percent said they expected the idea to cause more collisions. Almost two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) said they thought the change would result in more vehicles breaking down.

Despite the fact the changes are intended to ease the financial pressure during a cost-of-living crisis, the RAC survey suggests drivers remain unconvinced there will be a cost saving. More than half (58 percent) said the changes could end up costing drivers more in the long term as problems would go undetected and could become more costly to repair, while 44 percent said they would expect the change to cause garages to increase prices to make up for a loss of revenue.

Halfords Autocentre MOT Service and Tyres centre in Basingstoke UK

Among those who thought the plans were a good idea, three quarters (74 percent) said modern cars were more reliable than older vehicles and would not need annual checks, while more than half (54 percent) said they thought it could save them money. Four in 10 (41 percent) even told the RAC they check their cars over for basic roadworthiness and did not need to pay someone to do it for them.

However, the RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said the RAC thought cost “secondary to safety” and urged the Department for Transport to look at other measures to reduce drivers’ costs.

Halfords MOT and Service Centre logo sign in Northampton town centre

“Many drivers look at the MOT test as an important tool to see if their vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition,” he said. “It makes them feel safer when driving and carrying family and friends knowing that, at least officially, their vehicle has been passed as safe to use on the roads. It also gives drivers peace of mind from an overall road safety point of view to know that every other vehicle on the road has undergone the same checks.

“We already know that many vehicles fail their MOT because of illegal tyre tread, so if this figure were to get significantly bigger more lives would be put at risk from vehicles losing grip on the road and not stopping quickly enough when brakes are applied. And we know from our breakdown statistics that tyres in poor condition are far more likely to blow out or get punctured.

“There is a real danger that if the government proceeds with these proposals that we could see an increase in the number of collisions and more injuries and deaths due to more unroadworthy vehicles using our roads, and an overall reduction in road safety. We’ve written to the new Secretary of State for Transport and urged her to consign this idea to the bin and look at other ways to help cash-strapped drivers reduce their motoring costs.”