Safety fears in France as number of ‘MOT tests’ falls

The number of cars in France is rising – but the number of contrôle technique (CT) tests undertaken is falling.

26 February 2020
By Connexion journalist

This has prompted warnings that an increasing number of vehicles are unroadworthy.

The 3.5% drop in vehicles being presented for the CT, similar to the UK’s MOT, is equivalent to 738,753 cars.

The fall comes at a time when more vehicles than ever are being registered.

It follows highly publicised tightening of pollution control elements in the test and the introduction of new laws which allow contrôle technique centres to immobilise vehicles that they consider present an immediate danger on the roads.

Thierry Benteyn, in charge of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of the motor industry trade body Conseil National des Professions de l’Automobile, told Connexion: “We have to say that there will be an increase in dangerous vehicles on the road.

“By far the largest number of cars without a CT are because the owners have forgotten to have one done.

“But with this fall, the first ever, there is obviously a new element of people not presenting their cars because they think they will fail.

“Within that, there will be cars with serious problems, like faulty brakes or steering.”

The new pollution controls, which had been postponed as a result of the gilets jaunes protests, have not led to a large increase in the number of
vehicles failing their first test, said Mr Benteyn.

“It continues to be little things, like presenting cars with blown light bulbs, which result in most failures,” he said.

“In general, if cars are maintained according to the recommendations in the owner’s handbook, they pass the pollution controls without problems.”

In France, cars must be presented for their first CT when they are four years old, and a sticker showing the date when the next test is due is stuck to the windscreen.

The test costs between €55 and €80, depending on region and the type of fuel used.

After that, cars must be tested every two years. When second-hand cars are sold, they must hold a valid CT which has been taken in the six months before the sale. The CT is necessary for the new owner to register the vehicle.

Fines for not having a CT are €135, but they are only issued if drivers are stopped by a policeman or gendarme.

Plans to implement automatic fines through new speeding cameras have not yet been implemented, as the changes to the law to allow this are taking a long time to get through government.

Insurers can refuse to pay out after accidents if the car did not have a CT but Mr Benteyn said not many motoring insurance contracts spell this out, so it is a judicial grey area.

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