Monday, 31 October 2011

Testing Testing

The government has announced plans to halve the frequency of MOT tests, meaning they would only be carried out once every two years. The Secretary of State for Transport announced his intentions at the Conservative Party Conference, where he talked about ‘reducing the burden of MOT Tests.’

This was a little surprising, given that, in opposition, the Conservative Shadow Transport Minister had said that any proposal to reduce the frequency of MOT Tests ‘….should never have seen the light of day.  If it had been given the green light we would have faced a situation where there were thousands of dangerous cars on our streets putting people’s lives at risk.’

So, what has changed? Well, it isn’t the facts.

The number of people killed and seriously injured in road accidents has fallen dramatically over the last decade. Road deaths fell by another 16 per cent from 2,222 in 2009 to 1,857 in 2010. This is the lowest figure since national records began in 1926.

All the evidence shows that the Annual MOT Test has made a significant contribution in ensuring that Britain’s roads are now amongst the safest in the world.

Last year, more than four in ten vehicles failed their MOT Test. There were 800,000 vehicles which failed because of really dangerous defects. Research shows that, if annual testing is scrapped, there will be another 250 road deaths and 2,200 more people will suffer serious injuries each and every year.

And, the government’s proposals won’t save money for drivers, as the savings from not having to have an MOT Test will quickly be cancelled out by further increases in insurance premiums, repair costs and the huge additional burden on the police and health services

So, if it isn’t the facts, what is it that has led the Conservatives to completely reverse their position?

Well, it’s about ideology. The clue was given when the MOT Test was described as a ‘burden’. The Conservatives have become obsessed by their own spin, where they describe any rule as ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’, and any protection for citizens – minimum wage, health and safety, employment protection – as ‘red tape’.

In this case, the harsh reality is that one person’s burden is another family’s funeral.