15 October 2014

The Myth of the Daytime MOT

If you spend any amount of time on a British motorcycle forum sooner or later someone will ask about a 'daytime MOT' and how you get one.

The answer is simple: there's no such thing.

The MOT is the MOT, and you either have one or you don't.

In the MOT Inspection Manual, which sets out the requirements and reasons for failure, the section on motorcycle lighting allows a motorbike to be presented for test without lights and, if this is the case, the absence of lights will be noted as an advisory point. Assuming everything else is in good order, you will achieve a pass and receive a MOT certificate.

Nothing about the MOT prevents you using the vehicle at certain times, but obviously without lights you cannot ride at night or at other times when you need them. If you re-fit lights to your bike, you can ride at night straightaway: no new MOT is required.

The wording in the manual for the lighting inspection is:
This inspection applies to: all machines, except those which have neither front nor rear position lamps, or have such lamps permanently disconnected, painted over or masked that are 
  •  only used during daylight hours, and 
  •  not used at times of seriously reduced visibility 
 If this situation occurs the machine presenter should be issued with a VT32 (advisory notice) recording the above.
The lights that can be omitted are:
  • Headlight(s)
  • Tail-light(s) 
  • Brake light(s)
  • Reflector
  • Indicators
But if you have a position light (side light or tail-light) then in most cases you must have the others too - there are exceptions.

Before the MOT system was computerised it wasn't unknown for testers to deface (and potentially invalidate) a MOT certificate by writing "Daytime Only" or similar on it, and this might have lead to the belief that is was a different test.

You can check the MOT (and tax) status of your bike on the Gov.UK web site, and I guarantee it won't say anything about the time of day you can use it!

Incidentally, the law requiring the use of vehicle lights during the hours of darkness is Section 25(1)(a) of the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations, and it's this law you would break if you used an unlit bike at night.