MOTs, noisy exhausts, and Twitter

Cost of living panic prompts the government to consider cost savings that could be of benefit to motorists, “boy racers” are targeted, and what has Twitter got to do with anything? Hayley Pells MSc CAE FIMI

Despite the fuel duty being cut for the first time in 20 years by 5p per litre by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak (announced during the Spring Statement), Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, has announced further considerations to impact both the cost of living and nuisance on the roads. Elon Musk buys Twitter out of concern for free speech.

Cost of living savings?

The proposal to cut the MOT to a two-year event was met with disbelief by the industry, a maximum saving of just over £26 is small comfort to those feeling the squeeze and likely to increase the overall cost of car ownership. Motor expert Duncan McClure Fisher has commented in mainstream media that items normally considered advisory would have a more stringent approach applied as MOT testers fear vehicles will not be examined for another two years. The industry understands that unless the criteria for MOT testing changes, that the standards cannot be applied differently, meaning it is very likely that the ageing UK Car Parc will become a more dangerous pool of vehicles that increasingly disconnected motorists will have to draw from. Further to this, small issues left unchecked turn into large or potentially dangerous ones – if they do not cause an accident, they can be far more expensive to repair.

The VAT free safety inspection offers excellent value to the motorist, changing to a two-year model does not change their legal obligation to maintain their vehicle in a road worthy state. As MOT testing is the only area that is VAT free, additional inspections would have to be billed at less than £45 to maintain the same approximate cost (once VAT is applied) to the motorist. This uncapped and unregulated check would not have any assurance as to what standard is applied, potentially creating an incredibly costly environment to maintain and repair vehicles, pushing many motorists out of affordable private transport.

The MOT test protects all road users, to make road and environmental safety financially out of reach when greener solutions such as cycling are being encouraged seems strange.

The menace of the “boy racer”(sic)

Disbelieving as it may be, Shapps took to Twitter to announce that noisy drivers are a gender issue, and he was offering money to trial technology to eliminate this problem of noisy exhausts fitted to cars and motorbikes. Urging constituents to petition their MP to apply, this is curious timing given the local elections in a few short days. The Ministerial Code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties, it is customary for them to observe discretion in announcing initiatives that are new or of a long-term character in their capacity as minister. Is this a politic football to win votes, or a genuine attempt to address deep concern voiced by the people at this time?

Many responded through Twitter that the MOT test covers noise, and that it made no sense to discard one established tool in favour of buying new ones. The DVSA also have powers through their Vehicle Examiners (VEs), as does the police to directly address nuisance motorists. Robbing several organizations of their resources whilst buying shiny new ones does not appear to make further cameras and observation to be a popular proposal.

Twitter

Elon Musk has made headlines worldwide with his purchase of Twitter, this is important whilst so much change is experienced within policy and legislation. The Online Safety Bill has been introduced in parliament, meaning there are now legal powers of parliament to approve what types of “legal but harmful” content platforms must tackle.” The specifics of “harmful” are worryingly vague, as users routinely access social media for news and content created by their peers. Posts such as MOT testers suggesting MOT testing should be subjected to strike like action could be termed harmful by the government and legally removed.

Publishers are protected through their traditional print outlets, but access to the publisher platforms through social media can be restricted under this new legislation. The reluctance of social media platforms to embrace the idea that every individual can publish ideas, criticism, and even action, may lead to their ultimate censorship. As Musk has demonstrated, he is not afraid to behave as a disrupter and his handling of meeting UK legislation with his new acquisition may be interesting, he has deep pockets to answer any fines that might be applied.

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