SAFE Journey

Since December 2020, most people have not been driving as often and are only using their car for essential journeys that they need to make.

Vehicles that are not used regularly can experience problems with key safety features like tyres and lights. Extended non-use of a vehicle can also lead to issues like faulty bulbs not being identified.

Garages are likely to have lower demand for MOTs in April and May because of the 6-month MOT exemptions that were introduced in March 2020, as part of measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

As more people need to drive on essential journeys, reminding drivers about the importance of ensuring their vehicle is safe and roadworthy could generate business and make up some of the MOT shortfall.

A recent survey of garages, carried out by the DVSA, found customers trust their MOT garage and prefer to choose a garage they’ve used before:

  • 59% of MOT customers prefer to choose a garage they have used before
  • 91% of customers are satisfied with the customer service from their MOT garage
  • 95% of customers trust their MOT garage

The ‘Beat the Rush’ campaign last autumn suggested getting an MOT early, the DVSA would like motorists to get their vehicle professionally checked if they need to start driving more regularly. Offering customers peace of mind through a service or health check or even an early MOT.

Ahead of schools reopening, the DVSA want to roll out a campaign to encourage motorists who need to drive to:

  • Check: carry out some simple vehicle safety checks
  • Book: get your vehicle checked by a professional (either through a service, health check or early MOT), for added peace of mind.

By working together to provide you with consistent, useful information, and to explain the importance of vehicle safety checks and also the professional, affordable services we offer, we can make this challenging time easier for everyone.  We look forward to working with you now and in the future.

The campaign will target motorists:

  • who are not using their cars regularly during the lockdown

What we know: 50% of drivers said they were not doing as many miles as before in an AA poll in October 2020. The drop in car travel highlights the need to check for faults before the first journey.

  • who don’t always know how to check their vehicle is safe

What we know:  Millions of British drivers lack the basic knowledge of vehicle maintenance and cannot – or do not want to know how to – check straightforward features such as their car’s tyre pressure, the condition of the number plate or screenwash level, according to an article on research carried out by Halfords.

  • who are busy and vehicle safety isn’t top of mind

What we know: DVSA research shows a third of parents and carers (30%) said that lack of time is the main reason they do not check their car more often. Oil, windscreen washer fluid and tyre checks are the most popular vehicle maintenance checks undertaken by parents and carers.

Key Message

  • As schools start to fully reopen, some people will need to use their cars more often
  • If you need to do an essential journey, there are simple checks to get you safely back on the road
  • Vehicles which have not been used frequently can face some common problems with tyres, lights and screenwash
  • For added peace of mind, get your vehicle professionally checked with a service or a health check
  • If you want to go back to your original pre-exemption MOT date, consider getting an early MOT
  • Garages will be quieter in April and May, so you are likely to get an appointment of your choice
  • Doing simple vehicle checks or having a check by a professional means you know your vehicle is safe and roadworthy if you need to use it.

The SAFE advice we will be offering to motorists is:

Service or health check if needed

  • For added peace of mind, get your vehicle professionally checked with a service or a health check. If you want to go back to your original pre-exemption MOT date, consider getting an early MOT. Your garage can check the things you can’t see
  • For example, brakes need to work properly and are fundamental to your safety when driving a vehicle. You can test the brake pedal each time you drive the car
  • If the brakes feel different or make a continued noise, or if the vehicle pulls to one side, you must contact your local garage as soon as possible
  • If the warning lights on the dashboard come on, get the vehicle professionally checked as soon as possible.

Air in tyres

  • Tyres need to be correctly inflated, without any cuts or bulges. Correctly inflated tyres reduce the risk of accidents, will last longer and will save you money on fuel
  • Tyres can lose air and deteriorate when they are stationary for a long period
  • Your car manual will tell you the right pressure for your tyres. 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
  • Remember to check your advisories. If a tyre was close to the minimum tread before the lockdown, now might be a good time replace the tyre.

Fill up screenwash

  • You need to check fluid is topped up and the windscreen wipers work, without streaking water. When the engine is cold, lift the bonnet, check the windscreen washer bottle and top up if necessary. Using washer fluid rather than water will help to clean the windscreen and prevent the washers freezing in colder weather.

Examine lights & tyre tread


  • Since you last used the vehicle, a car bulb could have blown
  • 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 your 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.

Tyre tread

  • The legal tyre tread depth for cars is 1.6mm and the condition of your tyres is key to your safety. This is especially important when roads are wet and icy
  • Turn the steering wheel fully to the left or right. Look for the 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 good rule of thumb is the 20p test. 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.

Check out our other link here to see an in depth description on how to check your tyres.