Around 1,000 drivers a week failed to turn up for their MoT at the end of the last year, new figures have revealed.
That's according to statistics released by the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) for the period 1 October to 31 December 2022.
It shows the highest number of no-shows ever recorded. It's causing issues for those drivers trying to secure appointments for their vehicles.
In Northern Ireland drivers are required to put their vehicle through MoT once it is four years old, and every subsequent year.
The test is to ensure vehicles are road worthy.
In recent years, the DVA has faced criticism over tests. In 2020, 52 out of 55 lifts at MoT centres were found to have cracks. These were replaced, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Restrictions resulted in tests being halted, with a slow return. When they did resume, capacity struggled to keep up with supply.
That is no longer the case, however, as the DVA said it's now once completing tests at, if not higher than, pre-pandemic levels.
Between 1 October and 31 December 2022, the DVA carried out 209,340 private car full tests.
During the same time period, a further 13,319 customers who had booked a test failed to turn up.
DVA Chief Executive Jeremy Logan told UTV: "That's just over 4,000 per month and in a day of testing we would do in and around 3,000 tests, and on a very good day around 4,000 tests per day.
"So, we're losing essentially a day of testing each month because of people that fail to attend for their appointments," he added.
"That's disappointing because it means that that capacity is lost, those appointments can't be reallocated to anybody else. And also disappointing for the customer as they lose their test fee when they don't turn up for an appointment."
The reason behind those failing to attend appointments isn't clear. "It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves and we’ve not quite sure," said Mr Logan.
"I would probably be speculating if I said it’s perhaps maybe people forget about their appointment.
"Perhaps they haven’t got their car, or haven’t had the time to get prepared for MoT, or other things happen at the last minute that unfortunately means they can’t attend their appointment.
"But as I say, that tales away from our capacity to test vehicles and eats into the demand."
Mr Logan explained the lengths to which the DVA has gone to in order to reduce waiting times.
"We have 15 test centres and those test centres are now opening seven days a week, including bank holidays to meet the demand for test.
"I must command the staff and the centre management teams for the effort they have put in."
Garages are also feeling a gear change in demand for MoT preparation.
Neil Purdy is a mechanic in east Belfast. He told UTV his garage "has been booked up for about three weeks".
"I think people are probably forgetting about MoTs and then they're trying their best to get their cars in," he said.
"People are keeping their cars longer and they're not going to get new cars anymore because everything's a fortune."
The DVA's new booking system receive a text or email reminder two days before their test.
Motorists can also change their appointment up to one full working day beforehand.For more information about MoTs, check out the NI Direct website.
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