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UK MOT Testing History

By David Sandford

MOTs are there to ensure that all vehicles on the road are safe. Many people view it as an annoying piece of legislation, but in reality, it is very important. The MOT system protects the driver of the car, pedestrians and other road users. Most countries in the world now have a vehicle testing system. Those that enforce their system have much lower accident and death rates on their roads.

The MOT test was introduced in the UK in 1960. It was a simple test that only checked the brakes, steering and lights. Only cars over the age of 10 years were required to take the test. In 1967 the age limit was changed so that cars of 3 years old or more also had to be tested.

In 1962, commercial vehicles such as lorries and buses had to be tested in addition to cars. The regulations for passenger vehicles with 8 seats or more were tightened up in 1983; they had to be tested at 1 year old instead of 3. Tyre quality and tread depth tests were added in 1968. Prior to that, it was normal to see cars with almost bald tyres. This lead to many accidents, in particular in the winter.

Windscreens, wiper blades, windscreen washer systems, indicators, spotlights, the horn, body structure and exhaust system tests were all added in 1978.

In 1991, emissions tests were introduced. Prior to that, it was not unusual to see vehicles billowing black smoke driving around, in particular heavy goods vehicles. Many cars struggled to pass this test to start with, but now vehicles are much better maintained. Pollution levels in towns and cities dropped steadily once emissions testing were introduced.

The fact that the MOT test has got gradually stricter has contributed to the steady decline in the level of serious accidents on the UK’s roads. Including seatbelt checks in the MOT has helped to ensure that they work properly when an accident occurs, which has saved lives.

For many years, it was relatively easy to get a fake MOT certificate. Recently the system was computerised and now it is virtually impossible to do so. The net result of this is that yet more dangerous vehicles have recently been taken off the roads.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Sandford, David "UK MOT Testing History." UK MOT Testing History. 16 Aug. 2010. 19 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Sandford, D (2010, August 16). UK MOT Testing History. Retrieved August 19, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Sandford, David "UK MOT Testing History"

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