The European Parliament has approved new EU-wide minimum standards for MoT safety tests and roadside inspections, with the aim of cutting road deaths by 50% between 2010 and 2020. 

MOT test station signThe Roadworthiness Package voted through in Strasbourg on Tuesday July 2nd will raise safety standards for vehicles on Europe's roads, says local MEP and Lib Dem European transport spokesman Phil Bennion MEP.

In the vote, MEPs backed a deal pushed through the Transport Committee by Dr Bennion with support from business and farming leaders to exclude trailers lighter than 2 tonnes from MoT tests.

Phil Bennion MEP said:

"The UK has led the way on road safety standards. These proposed new EU rules aim to raise minimum standards for MoT style tests right across Europe.

"In an area of freedom of movement where vehicles cross borders on a regular basis we need to ensure that all vehicles are safe and roadworthy.

"The proposed new rules will also make our roads safer by ensuring that vehicles from other EU countries being driven on UK roads will have to be properly maintained and tested.

"We have also secured flexibility for member states to implement changes so that the UK's own unique system of vehicle testing, registration, and taxing can stay in place and be improved.

"I have also worked closely with the Federation of Small Businesses to cut costs and unnecessary bureaucracy for small businesses and farmers, by winning an exemption for the lightest trailers and agricultural tractors from the proposed new testing regime.

"I will continue to campaign for caravans, trailers between 2 and 3.5 tonnes and current motorcycles to be excluded from the regulations in negotiations between Parliament and national governments.

"I don't agree with the Eurosceptic line that we should not have common EU safety standards at all. I visited an MOT station in Tamworth recently to discuss it with their management and they were positive about the changes. The new proposal will bring laggards up to the standard of better member states, like Britain. We need to get the detail right but the principle is sound."

Commenting on the vote by MEPs against proposals to introduce a regular MOT test for light trailers and agricultural tractors, John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Having campaigned on this issue for over a year, we welcome today's vote by MEPs to exempt the lightest trailers and agricultural tractors from a new testing regime.

"However, we believe all trailers under 3500kg should be exempt and will continue working with MEPs and Ministers to make a push for this."

The package will now have to be negotiated with national governments to agree a compromise text before the European Parliament will have a final vote on the new rules later this year.


Note to agriculture desks:

In the UK, which has some of the safest roads in Europe and a tough MoT test regime, the number of people killed in road accidents dropped by 8% to 1,754 in 2012 from 1,901 in 2011.

Phil Bennion MEP added: "We need to raise minimum standards across the EU. However, I still have a concern over medium trailers and caravans, which MEPs voted to include in the scope of the regulations.

"All the evidence I have seen suggests most accidents involving trailers and caravans are due to driver error, excessive speed or overloading - which is why it is crucial we have proper roadside checks. I have seen no evidence that we need to apply MoT tests to caravans.

"There is also a massive difference between unladen and maximum laden weight, especially Ifor Williams style trailers used to carry livestock.

"The Commission wanted MoT tests for all small and medium trailers up to 3.5 tonnes. In committee, working with the FSB and farming leaders, I convinced other party groups to exclude small trailers up to 750kg. I also argued that 750kgs was still too low a threshold for testing and would represent red tape with little safety benefit. In the vote we held the line at trailers below 2000kg although were unsuccessful in excluding caravans up to that weight."

Reported road casualties in the UK in 2012: