Early MoT reminders as delays grow in Northern Ireland
Drivers are to get reminders more than two months before their MoT is due in a bid to try to manage the current lengthy delays for appointments.
Motorists here have to wait up to 47 days for an MoT appointment but the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) is refusing to reintroduce exemption letters that would allow them to use their vehicles until the time of their test.
The DVA said an increase of around 15,000 applications for tests in the first three months of this year is the reason for the long waits - but disgruntled drivers say the agency should have been better prepared.
The DVA has said it intends to bring in additional staff to its 15 local centres and may open on Sundays, but that is cold comfort for drivers who have been told it will be mid or late July before they can get an MoT appointment.
Richard Cole from Newcastle, Co Down, said the DVA should have been better prepared.
He received a letter on May 26 informing him his car was due a test but even though he tried to book immediately, the first available appointment wasn't until mid July.
"This is a problem of the DVA's making. They should have been better organised and should have measures in place to avoid these waits.
"When I couldn't get an appointment for so long I fully expected to be issued with an exemption note but that didn't happen.
"I applied for a test on the very day I received my reminder which is what the DVA tells you to do, but even after doing that I will be left with a car that doesn't have a MoT certificate for a few weeks through no fault of my own.
"This is down to the DVA so I think they should at the very least issue exemption notices that would allow drivers in my position to use their cars."
And Peter Ards from Belfast said if historic cars were subject to the same rules as the rest of the UK, the number of vehicles needing an MoT would be reduced significantly.
The Department for Infrastructure said anyone driving without a valid MoT certificate is breaking the law.
It added: "In response to the recent increase in demand for vehicle tests, a number of measures have been taken to increase capacity, including the recruitment of additional staff, both permanent and temporary, and opening on the bank holiday Mondays in May.
"Urgent consideration is being given to the possibility of opening on Sundays for a limited period of time to address the current backlog in applications."