Concern over MoT waiting list

Concern over MoT waiting list

24 November 2021

A NUMBER of drivers across the district have expressed concern about the lengthening waiting list for an MoT test and whether they can legally drive their vehicles if their current certificate has expired.

It emerged last week that in September, 93,653 applications were submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) for a full MoT test, with 57,227 completed.

Last month, another 95,555 motorists applied for an MoT, but 22,001 of those were not completed. In total, 189,208 applications were submitted and 130,781 MoTs were carried out in that period — leaving 58,427 motorists still waiting on a test.

The DVA’s director of operations, Pat Delaney, told MLAs earlier this month that the agency is “struggling” with sickness absences among examiners, with long Covid among the causes.

His comments have prompted calls in some quarters for Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon to utilise the so-called Temporary Exemption Certificates (TEC) so motorists requiring an MoT for their vehicle can avoid fines or prosecution if they are stopped driving a car whose certificate has expired.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said it has applied TECs to all eligible vehicles to ensure that they can be driven legally as it continues to deal with the backlog.

Releasing October’s statistics, the DfI explained the 1,902 rise in applications from September was partly due to TECs issued in March expiring. 

The 73,554 full vehicle tests in October was just over 28% (16,327) higher compared with September (57,227), and 6% above the five year October average (69,531).

Of the 15 testing centres in Northern Ireland, those which carried out the highest number of tests in October included Newtownards (8,150), Belfast (Balmoral — 8,058), Craigavon (6,445), Mallusk (6,010), Londonderry (Newbuildings — 5,946) and Lisburn (5,678).

Loughinisland man Paddy Killen is one of a number of drivers whose vehicle’s MoT has expired, but  cannot get his vehicle tested until the New Year.

“My MoT expired at the start of this month and I applied to have my vehicle tested, with the first available slots in Downpatrick and Newry in mid-January,” he revealed.

“To compound the situation, my car tax expires at the end of November and when I went online and telephoned the DVA renewal service, both of which are automated, the process stalled because I had no current MOT certificate.”

Mr Killen said different insurance companies have different policies with respect to MOT certificates being up-to-date, explaining that his insurer has confirmed the company is happy he continues to drive his car, provided he has taken the first available time slot for testing and that his car is being maintained in a roadworthy state.

“Driving without tax is a police issue and I don’t know how they propose to deal with it if I was stopped,” he continued.

“I could seek an exemption certificate from the DVA and when I eventually got through to its helpline, I was told that I could not drive the vehicle without MoT and tax. An official said the organisation was sorry and that I could seek an alternative time slot for a vehicle test if I kept contacting them and a cancellation or vacancy arose.”

Mr Killen says he finds himself in a “very difficult position” and that there are many other drives who find themselves in the same situation. 

He said the bottom line for him is that there is extremely limited availability of MoT slots over the next 10 weeks and many people are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their cars on the road.

A spokesperson for the DfI said the DVA had taken a range of measures to increase MoTs with the recruitment of additional vehicle examiners, use of overtime, making extra vehicle test slots available daily at most centres and offering appointments on a Sunday at most test centres and on Bank Holidays.

In addition, the spokesperson confirmed that theDVA had also consulted with the PSNI and the Association of British Insurers to make them aware of the current position.

“In the event police encounter an untaxed vehicle, so long as they can ascertain that a vehicle is roadworthy, has a forthcoming MoT test date and has not  been SORNED, then police will not take any further action,” the DfI added.