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A closer look at MOT risk rating

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: MOT testing service, News and updates

an MOT tester logged into the MOT testing service

The new approach to risk rating using MOT data from both testers and garages has been live for over 6 months now. So far, we think it’s going well.

But, like previous versions of risk rating the new approach has caused testers and garages some concern. I thought I would explain what risk rating means to us, what it should mean to you, and what we’re doing to improve how it works.

Making the most of what we’ve got

One of the main reasons for the risk ratings is working smart and working efficient. Like all organisations, we only have a finite number of staff and a finite amount of time. We can’t be everywhere at once.

That means we need to think of new and innovative ways to help us target the right garages and testers. This allows us to focus less of our energy on good garages and testers, and to focus our efforts to improve the overall quality of MOT testing.

That’s really the main point of using data to assess risk. It isn’t used to make decisions about a garage or tester’s performance. It’s a tool we use to point us in the right direction.

Risk, not performance or discipline

As I said, this is about rating risk, not performance. For us red and amber shows the testers or garages that might be worth giving attention to. But before we plan some sort of enforcement check – we will also review the data to check an enforcement check is the right thing to do.

And when we do the enforcement check, if we don’t find any serious problems it will improve the risk score.

Unlike disciplinary actions, like formal or final warnings, risk rating is not absolute. It does not mean that we have found anything wrong or indeed you are doing anything wrong. It is simply a tool and an indicator for us to help plan our work.

What should you do if you’re rated red?

The first thing to say is that there’s no need to panic. Turning red or amber does not mean we’ll come racing down to the garage to see what is going on. Instead, we’ll monitor that tester or VTS to see if they stay high risk month after month. If they do then yes, a visit may be needed.

If you’re red or amber, you should do the same. Monitor your risk rating and dig through your test logs and test quality information to see what could be causing it. You should also speak to your peers and your manager to try and understand why you’re on a higher rating. If you haven’t got time for this you may want to consider employing a consultant or third party to help.

Making the system work better

Risk rating will evolve and improve as we better understand how to use the data effectively. The work we have been doing over the years has enabled MOT to be more dynamic, giving us the ability to adapt much more quickly than when we relied mainly on-site assessments.

For example, we knew we had a problem with low volume testers fluctuating on the risk rating due to the fact they test infrequently. So, we have tweaked the system to improve this. We have also been out speaking to our vehicle examiners, helping them to understand when to mark an area of the site review unsatisfactory and when not to.

Looking to the future, we have more ideas on the table to further improve risk rating for you and us. Again using MOT data, we are exploring the idea of predicting the result of the test for the vehicle being tested. This isn’t going to happen imminently – we’re just testing the theory at the moment.

But if the results show we can predict the result with a high level of accuracy, we might be able to couple this with other metrics to help risk rating. Obviously this will need to be trialled and tested before we start using it, and it would simply be an indicator that something is different that might require deeper investigation.

And finally…

It’s easy for me to say don’t worry about risk rating when I’m writing this from behind my desk (well, actually on a train to Nottingham) but you seriously don’t need to. Just having a red risk rating doesn’t mean we take action. We will only take action if we find something wrong.

If you believe you are doing things correctly and have used all the tools available to you to establish this, then please carry on doing the great job you do helping us keep Britain’s roads some of the safest in the world.

We'll be launching a guide on how to manage your garage soon.

If you have a question about your risk rating score, or want to appeal your score, you can contact our customer service centre on 0300 123 9000.


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  1. Comment by mick woodward posted on

    why is everyone worried about ratings ,if you do your job correctly don't worry about what other test stations are doing ,I don't worry about it , as already stated this job is getting harder to do with out worrying about ratings etc we do our job to the best of our ability this is all we can do