The MOT computerisation project, which aims to take a million illegal and dangerous cars off the road, has finally been rolled out to all 18,500 testing stations and garages - nearly three years later than it was originally due to be delivered.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) awarded the 10-year ?230m private finance initiative (PFI) contract to Siemens Business Services (SBS) back in 2000 with the aim of rolling out the system to garages from May 2002 but faults discovered during extensive testing led to repeated delays.
The first garages were linked up to the national MOT database last April and the system has now been installed in all of the UK's 18,500 authorised testing stations as of 31 March 2006.
The MOT garages are equipped free of charge with a ruggedised PC, dot-matrix printer and dial-up modem, and testers are authenticated using a smart card and password, which allows them to electronically send the MOT details by a secure internet connection directly to the central MOT database.
The central database includes vehicle information, test results and details of authorised examiners and testers. The system can also be accessed by Vosa staff and there is a direct feed to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database.
The MOT computerisation project is the final part of the electronic vehicle licensing initiative that can confirm a vehicle is registered with the DVLA, has valid insurance and a current MOT by linking with the Association of British Insurers and DVLA systems.
Alex Fiddes, director of the private vehicles sector at Vosa, told silicon.com: "We will be able to eliminate people fraudulently issuing MOT certificates."
Motorists will also be able to check the MOT status and the history of a vehicle using a free online service or phone line. Police will be able to validate MOTs online and use the database in conjunction with automatic number plate recognition systems.
Vosa said it will soon be able to offer law enforcement agencies a complete list of vehicles without MOTs.
Fiddes admitted there had been some delays along the way but said it was more important to get the system right than to meet deadlines.
He said: "This is not a simple IT system and we said we would not rush to meet artificially imposed milestones."
Training garage mechanics to use the new system was one issue but Fiddes said that it now typically only takes someone two weeks to get up to speed on it.
Under the terms of the PFI deal, Vosa will pay SBS ?1.09 per MOT pass for the 30 million tests done each year. Around 16 million MOT records have already been added to the database since the system launch last year.
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