Lack of confidence in garage professionals to blame for motorists driving defective cars says IMI

Road safety charity, Brake and Direct Line have released data on drivers’ attitudes when it comes to vehicle safety checks and basic maintenance. Almost half of respondents admitted to driving with at least one risky vehicle problem or defect. The IMI, the professional body for the motor industry which is campaigning for the licensing of the retail motor trade, believes fears of being over-charged or given poor service by garages are probably contributing to motorists’ attitudes.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of motorists surveyed by the IMI last year said that they wouldn’t feel confident challenging a bill because of technical jargon used and 1 in 10 said they don’t like visiting a garage because they feel they are not treated with respect.

Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, believes the latest research from Brake and Direct Line simply underlines consumer fears about the service they will receive in garages. “Clearly there is a serious safety risk if motorists are not taking heed of vehicle faults and don’t feel comfortable going to a garage for maintenance and repairs.

“Our research suggests that the majority of motorists choose a garage or mechanic without sufficient information to verify their competence to do the job. The proliferation of hybrid vehicles and complex driver assist systems has already increased the skills requirements for effective and safe working on modern vehicles. But currently there is no industry-wide license in place to ensure service technicians are properly qualified.

“The template for licensing already exists through IMI Accreditation and our Professional Register, so there is no excuse for the Government to delay. Yet, by our calculations there are 148,000 mechanics whose skills and current competence we cannot verify. It is vital that this issue is addressed as quickly as possible.”

The IMI is calling on all the major political parties to include a mandatory License to Practice for the motor trade in their election manifestoes in 2015.

IMI research also shows that 90 per cent of businesses in the sector are in favour of licensing to protect them from being undercut by rogue traders. The IMI is seeking meetings with the leaders of all the main political parties ahead of the General Election to put the case for licensing. It will publish the results of these consultations and advise its 500,000 members and associates in the sector, of appropriate voting choices, accordingly.

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