The MOT test is a guarantor of the roadworthiness of the vast majority of vehicles using the UK’s roads, and so has to adapt to change with the times. New technology in cars, vans and motorbikes, on top of tighter emissions standards and new government policies, mean that rules for passing the MOT are “tweaked” quite regularly. For this reason, it’s extremely important not to miss your renewal date. Unfortunately, according to a new poll, many millions of British drivers did exactly that in 2019.

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Large numbers of illegal drivers

The figures are actually quite startling. A massive 7.6 million vehicles missed the expiry date on their MOT certificates in 2019. Every single one of those vehicles, if driven before the certificate was renewed, meant that its owner was breaking the law. For something which comes around every year on the same date, like Christmas, this seems like quite a shocking statistic; this in turn suggests that forgetting a vehicles’ MOT date is actually quite common.

Strangely, however, more than 80% of those who forgot to check their MOT date still remembered to have their vehicles checked within three months, as per MOT guidance. In what seems evidence of motorists’ selective memories, over 600,000 vehicles went untaxed, and more than two million drivers forgot to tell the DVSA about a change in circumstances, meaning their driving licenses were invalid.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this lack of attention to detail led to police issuing over 160,000 fines, all of at least £1,000 each. While that amounts to £160 million for the UK Treasury, this money means that there were an awful lot of illegal drivers on the country’s roads in 2019. All for simple documentation oversights, including forgetting the date of the annual MOT renewal.

Consequences of missing MOT renewal

Of course, in the case of the MOT oversight, there is something more at stake than money. Simply put, these certificates and tests are there to keep vehicles safe and roadworthy. Without knowing it, any one of these motorists could be driving around in a vehicle deemed to be in a dangerous condition; this is by no means always obvious to the average driver. There are many reasons your vehicle could qualify for this distinction, without it making a noise, producing a smell or even being difficult to drive.

The fine for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition is £2,500. On top of that, you will get three points on your license, which may in turn lead to a ban. Also, of course, your car, van or motorbike will need to be fixed before you can drive or ride it again.

Check and book your MOT

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Luckily, it’s easier than ever to check your MOT expiry date. If you’re not sure, just enter your Reg. number into this online form, and your latest details from the national database will show up. If your expiry date is near, book a test using the online booking service. Don’t get caught out like millions of others.