Cash-strapped motorists delaying repairs and risking safety

10.33 | 19 March 2012 |

Motorists are delaying essential maintenance and driving illegal cars because they can’t afford the repairs, according to new research from Britannia Rescue.

In the survey, 23% of motorists admitted that their cars have a defect which renders it illegal, and 14% said their vehicle is in urgent need of repair. The most common defect is bald tyres, but other common problems include faulty brakes, broken windscreen wipers, broken or missing wing mirrors and defective brake lights.

18% of respondents admitted to driving a car without valid a MOT certificate. Two thirds of these said they did so because they had forgotten to check the renewal date on the certificate, while the other third said they were aware, but drove the car anyway.

Britannia Rescue says that police data shows that the number of drivers caught driving cars that were not roadworthy increased in 2011 by 4% across the UK. The most common recorded offence is driving with defective tyres, followed by driving a vehicle that is in a ‘dangerous’ condition.

According to the research, on average, drivers now delay fixing these common faults for more than four months, with 13% taking six months. This problem is worst among younger drivers, with a quarter of those aged 18-34 driving a car in need of repair compared to just 5% of those over 55.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue managing director, said: “At a time when money is tight and fuel prices are on the increase, motorists are looking to save cash where they can. Sacrificing car maintenance is a false economy, which not only increases the risk of breaking down but also puts those travelling in the car in unnecessary danger. In these tough economic times we all need to tighten our belts, but scrimping on road safety isn’t the place to start.”

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “In 2010, poorly maintained vehicles caused 52 road deaths. Neglecting maintenance only leads to bigger repair bills later on, lower second-hand values, and increased fuel consumption. There are also fines if you get caught. More frontline policing and better co-ordination between agencies such as VOSA and the DVLA will help get the worst examples off the road, but In the meantime VOSA should extend the MOT reminder scheme so that no driver can plead ignorance of their renewal date.”

For more information contact the IAM Press Office.


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