As the easing of restrictions sees car traffic rapidly returning to pre-pandemic levels, MOT experts say nearly two million cars may be being driven illegally.

The latest transport data shows that with the arrival of Step 2 of the government’s road map for England, car traffic rose to 88% last week of the equivalent level before the pandemic, up from 77% the previous week. If that increase was spread evenly across the UK car parc, it would represent the equivalent of an additional 3.5 million cars on the road compared to the previous week.

Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest MOT tester, is highlighting that many drivers getting back to using their car more regularly may be doing so illegally. Figures from the DVSA show that following the issue of MOT extensions during the first lockdown, one in five (19.5%) of those vehicles have yet to be retested. Even the last cars to receive an extension have now passed their extended expiry date, yet some 1.86 million of these vehicles still haven’t had a new MOT. Kwik Fit’s analysis of the latest data reveals that these 1.86 million vehicles have not had a valid MOT for an average of 3.4 months.

The statistics are particularly troubling when assessing the MOT failure rate of those cars that have been brought in for MOTs during this period. Kwik Fit has seen a significantly lower failure rate than in normal years (up to 10% difference), which suggests that it is the cars which are more likely to fail their MOT which are not being tested. Even taking the average overall failure rate of around one third of cars, this would indicate that at least 600,000 of these cars are not currently roadworthy.

To mark its 50th anniversary Kwik Fit is offering MOTs for £19.71 until the end of April and is urging any driver who is uncertain about their expiry date to check their MOT status while the offer is still available.

Eric Smith, MOT scheme manager at Kwik Fit, said: “It may be that shifting the expiry dates with the extension has caused the MOT to slip from drivers’ minds, or perhaps they have been using their car so little that they have forgotten about having it tested. We would urge drivers to make sure they are both safe and legal before heading out on to the road as restrictions ease.”

Drivers looking for MOT test availability can visit kwik-fit.com to select their most convenient centre at a time to suit them. Drivers can also sign up for Kwik Fit’s MOT reminder service to ensure they don’t forget their next test date and can plan their appointment in advance. 

If they don’t have their own record of their expiry date, vehicle owners can check the status of their MOT via the government MOT check service.