Northern Ireland mum 'will go to England for MoT’ - told to wait a month for test here
A motorist has said long MOT waiting times in Northern Ireland means she is considering travelling to England to get her car checked before her certificate expires.
Samantha Gallagher, who's in her 40s and from Comber, Co Down, tried to book a test yesterday morning but was told she would have to wait at least a month.
Her MOT is due to expire on April 13 and she said the wait would leave her stranded.
She has a barber shop business to run in Donaghadee and twin 18-year-old boys Louis and Taylor to care for as they both have autism.
She added that the current system was a farce.
"I don't see myself as having left it to the last minute," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Last year I managed to get an appointment within two weeks, but obviously something has gone wrong if all the centres are booked up for over a month."
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said multiple reminders are sent to drivers in advance to book their test early.
They are also contacting Ms Gallagher to help her arrange a new appointment.
She added: "I've no idea how I'm going to get around.
"I can't afford the taxis.
"I don't mind walking but doing it every day to get two buses to work is a joke.
"I'm not alone in this, I've been to the garage who look after my car and they said they've been inundated with customers in the same situation.
"In England, you can go to any garage and have an MOT done while you wait.
"But we have this system where you have a choice of seven or eight centres but you have to wait a month, it's a farce.
"I don't need this stress.
"I need to work, get the twins around and do the shopping."
She added: "I'm actually at the point where I think it would be easier to go over to England and have it done."
The DfI said: "The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) advises customers to book their vehicle test (MoT) as soon as they get a reminder notice which is sent seven weeks before the current certificate expires.
"This will avoid the test certificate expiring before the next scheduled vehicle test is due.
"If the test appointment still hasn't been booked within three weeks of the test certificate expiring another reminder notice is issued."
As waiting times vary between test centres, the DfI said booking as early as possible would give customers a greater choices of locations, dates and times - especially around busy holiday periods.
"The DVA is attempting to contact the customer so they can assist her with an appointment in advance of the vehicle test certificate expiring," it said.
Earlier this month, a UK wide survey from Co-op Insurance said millions of drivers suffer stress every year when taking their vehicle for MOT.
Out of 2,001 drivers, some 59% said they found the test stressful, while a fifth called the process "a hassle and too much effort" and the same amount said they struggled to find time to take their car to a garage.