A TELEVISION presenter from South Oxfordshire has spoken out on the Government’s MOT exemption scheme.

At the end of March, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced vehicle owners were to be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing, a scheme which remains under review.

This was done on the condition that cars, vans and motorcycles were kept in a roadworthy condition, with drivers still facing prosecution if found driving unsafe vehicles.

Dr Mike Leahy, a virologist specialising in pandemic disease, is also a freelance MOT tester and qualified mechanic.

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The 54-year-old, who hosted BBC show Rough Science, has questioned whether the scheme should continue.

He said: “With the so-called lockdown being eased and children returning to school, garden centres now open and non-essential shops opening in a couple of weeks, the roads are becoming much busier.

“The Government intervention puts lives at risk and compromises road safety.

“As it stands, unless something changes the much maligned MOT extension scheme will continue for a year, which is far longer than any other intervention with regards to Covid-19.

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“This is costing the Government millions in furlough payments, is destroying local businesses, and will inevitably cost innocent lives.

“With an estimated three million dangerous cars already on the road, which cause over thirty deaths and approaching three thousand serious injuries each year, the MOT test is the only effective way to enforce that motor vehicles are safe and legal.

“Around one third of vehicles are found to be unroadworthy at their MOT, with one in ten deemed to be dangerous, so it goes without saying that a voluntary commitment to keep a vehicle on a roadworthy condition is not effective.

“This is not only because a significant minority of drivers are reckless or negligent, but even diligent car owners simply don’t have the equipment to inspect brakes, suspension and steering.

“In addition, without the use of a national database which the police can use to enforce the obligation to keep a vehicle roadworthy, dangerous faults are unlikely to be found by traffic officers on vehicles until after an accident, by which time it is sadly too late.”

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Dr Leahy, who was born in Steventon, left school aged 15 to become a mechanic and has recently been carrying out MOT tests at DJ Matthews MOT centre in Didcot.

A DfT spokesperson said: “The MOT exemption was introduced to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Drivers, by law, must ensure their vehicle is roadworthy at all times and the DVSA has issued guidance to drivers on how to keep a car safe.

“Garages have been allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic to ensure cars can be fixed and maintained.”