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DVSA Concerned About Dangerous Vehicles on the Road This Christmas

Published 17 December 2019

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has issued a warning about dangerous vehicles being driven on the roads this Christmas. Lights are a particular worry, echoing the concerns our our readers who complain of cars showing only one headlight or tail-light on dank, dark nights.

Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment reprersent 14.9% of the MoT failure rate and the DVSA is warning that 49,588 cars that were late for their MoT test last December then failed as a result of a dangerous defect, such as broken head lights.

With up to 3 million extra car journeys each day in the lead up to Christmas, the DVSA is urging drivers to carry out 5 simple road safety checks on tyres, lights, brakes and windscreens and make sure the car has an up to date MOT. They’ve also produced a seasonal film guide to the five checks.

There is no excuse to 'forget' to MoT a car. DVSA’s free and simple to use MOT Reminder service takes away the hassle of having to remember when the MOT is due. Drivers can also check if any car has a valid MOT using DVSA’s free MOT History service

The DVSA’s 5 simple car safety checks are:

Check your lights

Headlights, sidelights, indicator and brake lights all need to be working and clean. Turn on all the lights and walk around the car. Give them a tap to check they’re not loose or damaged and check the colours are correct and match. Your car manual will explain how to change a bulb, or a garage can do this. You can test brake lights by reversing up to a garage door or window and pressing the brake. Look for a reflection in the rearview mirror. You should check your lights once a week and before a long journey.

Check your brakes

You can test the brake pedal each time you drive the car. If it feels different, if the brakes make a noise or if the vehicle pulls to one side, you must get them checked at a garage as soon as possible.

Check your tyre tread

The legal tyre tread depth for cars is 1.6mm, though 3.0mm is generally advised as the safe limit. The condition of tyres is fundamental to safety. This is especially important when roads are wet and icy. Turn the steering to expose the front wheels. Look for treadwear indicators which are at the bottom of the tyre grooves. If they are flush with the level of the tread, you need to replace the tyre. Another check is to insert a 20p coin into the groove on the tyre. If the tread covers the outer band of the coin the tyre depth is legal. Check the tread depth is even across the tyre. Tyre tread needs to be checked once a month and before a long journey.

Check your tyre pressure

Tyres need to be correctly inflated without any cuts or bulges that could cause as blowout. Correctly inflated tyres reduce the risk of accidents, will last longer and will save money on fuel. The car manual or a chart on one of the door pillars gives the correct pressures. Most petrol stations and garages will have a pressure gauge and air pump, so check when you fill up. At the same time look out for bulges and cuts. You should check your tyre pressures once a month and before a long journey.

Check your windscreen wash and washers

To keep your windscreen clean you need to check your windscreen washer fluid is topped up and the windscreen wipers work. Check the blue capped windscreen washer reservoir under the bonnet and top up if necessary using winter grade screenwash fluid to help prevent the washers freezing. Check the wiper blades by sight for wear and tear.


   on 18 December 2019

The DVSA May be concerned but until the police start ticketing drivers on a regular basis and impounding the vehicle until it is repaired it will not stop. There is no excuse now as most cars have bulb failure warning lights.

David Cottom    on 21 December 2019

Bulb failures are a problem but I am even more concerned at the number of drivers who don't bother to switch on their lights, no matter how dark it is or how bad the conditions. While recently driving from Berkshire to York, then York to Chester, over two days in the worst conditions I have ever driven in over 45 years (very dark with torrential rain), I saw dozens of cars with absolutely no lights on. And of course, not a single police car seen in over 350 miles. (Thanks, Theresa.) Both are driver laziness or incompetence. It's easy to check your lights are working and even easier to switch them on. These cars AND DRIVERS should be taken off the road.

Pug RCZ    on 21 December 2019

There are an awful lot of one headlight cars about. One of my dipped beam bulbs failed recently and it was impossible not to notice. I bought a pair of new bulbs immediately but had to get my Peugeot dealer to fit them, despite good instructions in my car handbook. Sadly I can't see round corners and don't have eight inch long fingers to change them myself. I wish I'd been able to watch the dealer changing them.

Edited by Pug RCZ on 21/12/2019 at 21:26

LingNoi    on 23 December 2019

If the DVSA is so concerned about unsafe vehicles on the road, why don't they do something about the large number of foreign registered private cars on UK roads? I'm personally aware of several foreign expats residing in the UK and driving round in vehicles with foreign plates, no valid insurance, no MOT, not subject to parking fines or speeding/red-light cameras for more than a year, never returning to the country where the vehicle is registered. Naturally they're left hand drive cars so the driver's sat on the wrong side and their lights dip the wrong way dazzling other drivers at night.

It seems only law abiding drivers with UK registered cars are subject to minor details such as insurance, car tax, MOTs, speed cameras and parking fines etc. With zero enforcement, there's very little incentive for foreign expats living in the UK to register their vehicles here, in fact financially they're much better off not doing so.

M Plaskitt    on 23 December 2019

I have driven a lot of cars with automatic headlights, and they all had a switch wich would allow you to override the auto.

Fred Harris    on 23 December 2019

Most new cars nowadays have automatic headlights and sometime I find they don't always come on when its necessary, and I have to switch them on manually.

Although the worst thing I found the other day was driving along and the lights came on automatically, there was a car coming the other way who was indicating to turn right, they saw my lights come on and thought I was flashing them to let them cross, we nearly collided but stopped in time, he asked me why had I flashed him to go when I was not going to stop, I said it was due to the auto lights, could have ended in a punch up ....

galileo    on 27 December 2019

I regularly see idiots with bright LED DRL's lighting their way at the front who do not know they have no lights showing at the rear unless they turn them on.

Just a matter of time before someone wakes them up by running into them.
Another bright idea introduced by EU officialdom.

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