There are certain times of the year that fills the motorist with dread and fear. One of them used to be the acquiring of a road TAX disc from the post office. A rigmarole involving ages of queuing, form gathering (one of them being a certificate of motor insurance another harrowing time for the motorist as they try and secure that as well!) and the sheer terror of trying to get the disc out of the perforated sheet without ripping the disc in two then wondering if the post office will make you pay for another one (thank goodness for Direct debit). However, these are nothing compared to the anxiety created by the annual Ministry of Transport MOT test (a department that doesn’t even exist anymore!). The MOT is a vitally important test that all road cars over 3 years old have to adhere by if you want to keep it on the road. It tests the cars ability in terms of safety, its roadworthiness and now its emissions from the exhaust. You haven’t got the excuse that there aren’t any near you because there are twenty thousand and one hundred garages that can accommodate you with fifty three thousand MOT testers and many Gloucester MOT testers too. If the car passes (please let it pass!) then you can have a nice certificate from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency and you’re in the clear for another year. When did this necessary torture for you and the car start?
Ernest Marples is the man to blame, although he died in Monaco in 1978 so don’t bother writing to him or anything as you’ll get no reply. The country and the Government were, frankly, quite sick of seeing dangerous rust buckets roaming the A and B roads of Britain causing avoidable accidents via a mechanical failure. The sharp increase in cars on the road due to their new affordability was also a concern. In 1960, with powers given to him by the Road Traffic Act of 1956, Marples created the MOT test. The first one covered steering, brakes and light. This test only had to be done when the car was 10 years old. It had to have a test every year after that. It cost the equivalent of 70p for the test and five pence for the certificate. If you consider that most people earned just less than one thousand pounds a year or about £84 a month you can see that it adds up especially if something went wrong with it.
Unsurprisingly, there was a high failure rate and the Government quickly reduced the test to after seven years. The list of things to test has grown a lot more since then