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Biennual MOT testing proposed for Northern Ireland

Proposals to carry out MOT tests every two years in Northern Ireland have been put forward in a consultation by the Department for Infrastructure.

The current testing frequency in Northern Ireland is 4-1-1 with the first vehicle test at four years of age and then a test every year after. Light commercial vehicles that weigh under 3,500kg are first tested from three years old.

Nichola Mallon, Minister for Infrastructure said: “At present, subsequent MOT tests are conducted annually but in 2020 I made it clear that I was actively considering the option of moving to biennial testing for these vehicles, taking account of all the implications associated with this option.

“In addition, I also believe there is merit in considering whether motorcycles should also be tested biennially after their initial MOT test.”

In Northern Ireland the Department of Infrastructure’s Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) is responsible for conducting the roadworthiness testing of all vehicles which use public roads. Unlike in Great Britain, the tests in Northern Ireland are conducted in dedicated MOT centres throughout Ulster.

Mallon added: “I realise there will be those in Northern Ireland who favour a change in the frequency of MOT testing and others opposed to any change to the current process.

“Therefore, I would encourage you to respond to the Call for Evidence putting forward your views, if possible with supporting verifiable evidence.”

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) said it is to take an “active part” in the consultation by the Northern Ireland Executive on the Call for Evidence on the potential introduction of biennial MOT testing for private cars and light goods vehicles.

In the consultation, the IAAF said it will warn of the potential dangers of extending the MOT test frequency as it could lead to an increase in road accidents and fatalities.

The IAAF said will also argue that the current test frequency of 4-1-1 is both safer and more cost effective for motorists, as an increase in frequency would mean an increase in repair costs for drivers, insurance premiums and harmful emissions.

IAAF chief executive Mark Field commented: “It is more important than ever, following the reduction in Northern Ireland testing due to defective lifts in early 2020 and then the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, that the current testing frequency be upheld if not strengthened.

“To ensure as safe and cost-effective motoring as possible, motorists are responsible to have their vehicle inspected and serviced regularly. Given the substantial backlog of tests in Northern Ireland, which are only coming back to pre-pandemic levels in September, there are more unsafe vehicles on NI roads than ever before.

“Test Centres are currently experiencing an increase in failed items as a direct result of the granted extensions. It is vital that the Northern Ireland executive understands the impact that a change in MOT frequency would have on the number of unsafe vehicles on NI roads.”