MOT delays in Northern Ireland putting lives at risk, warns NFDA-NI

The worsening MOT backlog is now having a critical impact on safety – not to mention on the reputation of Northern Ireland’s dealerships

NFDA in Northern Ireland-NI members is urging action from Stormont and hosted key figures including MLA and MPs at a cross-party roundtable dinner at the Culloden Estate in Belfast earlier this month.

The continual backlog in MOT testing has been a chronic problem for both motorists and vehicle retailers in Northern Ireland for years. The combination of Covid lockdowns and the January 2020 lift equipment crisis has seen MOT testing come under severe pressure. In some instances, motorists are having to wait over six months for an appointment and required to travel significant distances.

NFDA-NI insists the longer a vehicle must wait for an MOT test, the more likely vehicle defects will develop in turn compromising road safety.

It points to figures that revealed that 2023 saw the highest annual number of deaths on Northern Ireland’s roads in eight years.

It adds that dealerships are experiencing significant reputational damage as a result as they are left unable to sell vehicles due to a lack of a valid MOT licence

It noted that while the planned opening of new test centres in Hydebank and Mallusk were initially welcomed by the industry and scheduled to open in 2022 and 2024 respectively, repeated delays could eman these may not be operational until 2025,

Since 2020, the net difference between total tests conducted and total test applications has increased dramatically, currently sitting at just under 400,000 for private cars and light good vehicles.

NFDA-NI wrote to infrastructure minister John O’Dowd MLA in March to discuss the state of the MOT backlog situation in Northern Ireland who was reported as unavailable ‘due to diary commitments’.

NFDA chief executive Sue Robinson concluded: “NFDA-NI have repeatedly brought to the forefront the unacceptable state of the current MOT regime in Northern Ireland and emphasised that urgent action is needed from Stormont. As such, we are disappointed that the infrastructure minister is unable to accept our invitation to discuss the matter at hand.

“This issue has reached a critical juncture and is having a detrimental impact on road/vehicle safety and the reputation of dealerships whilst the capacity is simply not there to tackle the growing backlog.

“We urge Stormont to work with us and key stakeholders within the industry to review the MOT regime, aiming for greater efficiency that benefits both consumers and dealers whilst upholding road/vehicle safety with paramount importance.”

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