Government suspends MoT tests for six months to help stop coronavirus spread

Transport Secretary says that from Monday all cars, motorbikes and vans will be given exemption that pushes back MoT dates

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MoT tests have been suspended for six months as part of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus, with the Government urging motorists not to drive dangerous cars.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said that from Monday all cars, motorbikes and vans will be given an exemption that will push back their MoT dates, effectively making them all valid for 18 months.

However, he warned that drivers would face prosecution if they did not keep vehicles roadworthy and were found driving unsafe cars.

The Government said the move would allow critical workers and those whose work "absolutely cannot be done from home" to keep commuting, as well as allowing people dependent on their cars to make essential trips such as shopping for necessities.

It comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) last week suspended MoTs for lorries, buses and coaches for up to three months.

Mr Shapps said: “We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat Covid-19 are able to do so. 

"Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine. Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work."

From March 30, vehicle MoT dates will update about a week before the test is due, pushing them back six months. 

The DfT said motorists whose MoTs are due before March 30 still need to have their test, but that those unable to make the appointment this week due to self-isolating will be able to have tests done at a later date. 

Ministers said they are currently in talks with the police and insurers to make sure drivers delaying their tests this week are not unfairly penalised.

For drivers whose tests are due from March 30, the exemption will mean their MoT is valid for another six months, so it will not affect their insurance policies.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: "In this unprecedented situation, insurers will not penalise you if you can't get an MoT. Safety is paramount, so check your brakes, tyres and lights before driving."

Meanwhile, mechanics have been classed by the Government as key workers, so garages can remain open during the lockdown. 

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) told The Telegraph that while some garages had already closed due to a sharp drop in trade in recent weeks, others were remaining open for essential repairs.

Stuart James, the CEO of the IGA, said: "The MoT business is a large part of the independent garage sector. 

"Due to the number of garages that have already closed down, there will be additional work for the ones that are staying open. I suspect there will be more that will close after hearing this announcement, but there will be others that try to tough it out and the ones that are left will be supporting the essential workers."

The MoT exemption was welcomed by the AA, but the association urged drivers to take extra care to keep their vehicles roadworthy during the suspension.

Edmund King, the AA president, said: "In the circumstances, I think this is a pragmatic and sensible move. We are still saying to drivers to check your tyres and do your basic maintenance. Don’t abuse it."