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New cars 'face four-year MOT exemption'

New cars could be allowed to stay on Britain's roads without an MOT for four years, the Government has proposed.

Extending the period before the safety check is required from three years would save motorists more than £100 million, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

The policy, which would also apply to motorcycles, could come into effect next year s ubject to a public consultation.

It would bring Britain into line with Northern Ireland and many other European countries including France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Norway.

The AA said the change would generally be supported by drivers, although the backing would not be "overwhelming".

In 1967 the MOT-free period was slashed from 10 to three years.

The DfT believes the development of safer technology and improved manufacturing means new vehicles stay roadworthy for longer.

Its figures show that the annual number of three and four-year-old cars involved in accidents where a vehicle defect was a contributory factor has fallen by almost two-thirds, from 155 in 2006 to 57 in 2015.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "We have some of the safest roads in the world and MOT tests play an important role in ensuring the standard of vehicles on our roads.

"New vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago and so it is only right we bring the MOT test up to date to help save motorists money where we can."

Under existing laws, vehicles must undergo the test on t he third anniversary of their registration and every 12 months if they are over three-years-old.

More than 2.2 million cars each year take their first test, which costs a maximum of £54.85.

Motorists can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

It is also a legal requirement that vehicles are roadworthy, regardless of whether they have passed an MOT.

A number of vehicle parts are checked during MOTs to ensure they meet legal standards, such as lights, seatbelts, tyres and brakes.

In November the AA commissioned a poll of more than 19,000 drivers to ask if they would be in favour of extending the period for new cars to have their first MOT from three years to four.

Some 44% were in favour of such a move, while 26% were opposed and a third did not have a view either way.

AA president Edmund King said: " The benefits are that there will be cost and time savings for drivers, whilst the downside is that we are likely to see some more cars with faulty tyres and lights slipping through the net.

"Most three-year-old cars will have undergone regular servicing so the majority will be in good condition.

"In the past the Government consulted on a switch from an annual MOT to biennial (every two years) which the AA and our members strongly opposed as we felt that would compromise road safety.

"This latest proposition appears to have support from drivers although that support is not overwhelming."

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