Missed MoT tests cost motorists in NI £1m every year
Motorists here are frittering away up to £1 million every year on missed MoT tests.
The revelation is based on new data showing there was almost £250,000 of missed appointments in just three months.
The Department of the Environment (DoE) said 7,200 people failed to turn up for tests booked between July and September 2015.
The cost of these no-shows totalled around £225,000.
The number of missed appointments increased by 1,000 compared to the same period last year - a leap of 16%.
Stormont environment committee chair and Alliance MLA Anna Lo called the data shocking.
"It's ridiculous that people are prepared to miss MoT tests that cost so much money," she said.
"It does not make sense. If people just don't turn up, it also makes the queue for people wanting MoTs longer.
"I'd urge people to be more publicly-minded - make a call and cancel the appointment so that someone else can be slotted in.
"It's a waste of people's time and a waste of public money for these appointments not to be kept."
According to the new data, Armagh had the poorest attendance record with one in 33 appointments missed.
The best were Craigavon and Newtownards, where the figure for missed tests was one in 45.
DUP MLA and deputy chair of the environment committee Pam Cameron said she was horrified by the statistics.
"I'm astounded that consumers are willing to lose so much money by simply missing appointments," she added.
"It's appalling - why don't people cancel? Why do they just not turn up?
"Is it a culture thing in Northern Ireland?
"We know there's a similar problem with hospital and GP appointments here.
"It's rude and disrespectful that people can't actually be bothered to do something as simple as picking up the phone and cancelling.
"I would ask people to have the common decency and the courtesy to take into consideration other people who need to get their vehicles tested sooner rather than later."
Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff, who also sits on the committee, said he was shocked by the sheer number of tests which had been missed by drivers.
"It's alarming because, objectively, one wouldn't expect the percentage of missed appointments to be that high or to be that costly," he said.
"There's a lot of emphasis nowadays on judicious spending of public money, and here's another area which requires some scrutiny.
"It's an issue that I intend to raise with the Environment Minister early in the new year."
The data was in the DoE's driver, vehicle, operator and enforcement statistics for July to September 2015.
They showed that 263,000 vehicle tests were carried out in that period.
That represented an increase of more than 8,000 (3%) compared with the same quarter in 2014.
The overall pass rate for full tests was 80.3% - slightly down - though the general trend for passes in recent years was up.
Other statistics in the report showed that half of learners passed the driving test, while just under half passed the theory test.
The full MoT test currently costs £30.50 for a car, with a retest coming in at £18.50.