Update on DfT consultation on roadworthiness testing exemption & their comment on "substantial change" to vehicles from 1988

Despite substantial support from many classic car enthusiasts for continuing an annual MOT test for classic cars (and the wider term of Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI)), the DfT has decided to exempt all vehicles from MOT testing constructed or first registered more than 40 years ago, on a rolling basis. That exemption will run parallel with the rolling 40 year VED exemption.

Many classic car owners will wish to continue to have their car tested annually as a safety check but also to ensure they have evidence they have taken steps to ensure their car is adequately maintained. The proper maintenance of the car will be an express condition of motor insurance policies. A voluntary annual test report will highlight any necessary maintenance requirements and provide a document a policyholder can provide should an insurer challenge the adequacy of the maintenance of the car should there be a claim.

See our earlier NEWS items on roadworthiness testing in the UK
Report from a FBHVC newsletter released on on 8th June 2017. More

What is the FBHVC?
The aim of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs(FBHVC) is to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the roads without any undue restriction and to support its member organisations in whatever way it can. FBHVC website

Posted: 171019
Roadworthiness testing report in the FBHVC's latest NEWS report
Above is a copy of the FBHVC NEWS item on roadworthiness testing. See the FBHVC NEWS issue 4 2017

The Government has decided to proceed with the exemption from MOT testing for all vehicles constructed or first registered more than 40 years ago, on a rolling basis

That was the option proposed in the DfT's consultation document. You can see a copy of the UK Government's response to the consultation online. GOV.UK

The key points from their report on the consultation responses and the justification for their decision are:

Relatively few vehicles are exempt from an MOT
Currently there are 197,000 vehicles exempt from MOT testing. By implementing this measure it is expected that around an additional 293,000 vehicles (or 1% of the total number of vehicles licensed on UK roads) will not require an annual MOT test.

UK Government's rationale for its decision
Cars of this age are usually maintained in good condition; they are used on few occasions, usually on short trips so requiring those vehicles to have a full MOT was unreasonable, the modern MOT was no longer relevant to cars over 40 years old, or garages could not test them adequately; and it would harmonise the MOT exemption date with the date for Vehicle Excise Duty.

Consultation responses made by UK members of the public
The chief argument against the MOT exemption was that all vehicles travelling on the public highway should have an annual test for safety reasons. Any vehicle could cause a fatal accident and therefore all should have an annual
MOT. The DfT claim this is an argument against any MOT exemptions at all, including the current exemption for vehicles built before 1960, older vehicles were constructed to different design standards from those of modern vehicles, which were not as robust and they should therefore have an MOT, most owners of older vehicles keep them in good condition but others do not and it makes sense to have an independent check, older vehicles corrode more easily than modern ones but this cannot always be spotted by the owner; and vehicle owners do not have the facilities to conduct tests as thoroughly as garages.

Consideration of the issue of any potential impact on rates of death and serious injury on the road from an MOT exemption
> MOT failure rate and the number of people killed and seriously injured in accidents involving vehicles over 40 years old are both lower than those for newer vehicles.
> TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) estimated in 2011 that just 3% of road casualties could be associated with vehicle defects. The effect of MOTs on the rate of vehicle defects contributing to crashes amongst these older vehicles is difficult to assess. Our conclusion is there could be a small negative effect on road safety. The impact assessment uses an estimate of close to two serious injuries per year. However there is no specific evidence that not testing
vehicles of historic interest will lead to a safety risk materialising. It is important to note that the method used to make the prediction uses a relatively simple approach and there are a number of confounding factors, not least that other events could trigger a repair or replacement part to be fitted before the MOT date.
> MOT pass rates are also indicative of the condition in which vehicles are kept. Like vehicles registered before 1960 (but less so), vehicles first registered in 1961-1977 have a substantially lower MOT failure rate than the general fleet (vehicles in the UK).

Vehicles that have been substantially changed
It is a requirement of EU Directive 2014/45 that vehicles which have been substantially changed “in the technical characteristics of their main components” should not be exempt from roadworthiness testing. The UK Government propose that an 8- point rule should be used to establish whether substantial change has occurred. That system is currently used by the DVLA to determine whether a vehicle that has been modified should be reregistered. Some respondents objected to this proposal on the grounds that substantial alterations could include upgraded brakes and suspension and excluding these vehicles retrospectively was unfair. Others said that the proposed DVLA 8-point rule for determining whether a vehicle had been substantially altered was too prescriptive or another layer of bureaucracy and drivers should be allowed to decide themselves whether their vehicles complied. Many of those that responded supporting this proposal felt that careful guidance on this matter would be needed.

DfT add "we have assessed these issues with DVLA and the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). We have produced a modified definition of ‘Substantial Change’ based on DVLA’s rule and propose to include it in guidance which will be finalised before the regulations come into force. A copy of the DfT Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI): “Substantial Change” Draft Guidance is available online. GOV.UK

"Substantially changed" requirement will apply from 1988
DfT add an important timing issue saying "we have decided that we will consider only modifications made since 1988 when determining whether a vehicle has been substantially altered and thus not exempt from roadworthiness testing". This will be of considerable interest to fellow members with MGB V8 Conversions which have been carried out and registered with DVLA since 1988.

Next steps
DfT end their report saying "we will introduce secondary legislation to enact these changes as soon as possible. The changes will come into effect from 20th May 2018. We will discuss with stakeholders the precise formulation of the guidance on "substantial change" and this will be published once the legislative phase is completed.