One in seven drivers plan to make full use of the six-month MOT extension, a new survey suggests.

A poll by RAC Approved Garages indicated that more than three times as many motorists (44%) plan on getting their car checked as normal despite the impact of the coronavirus.

Of those drivers intending to delay the MOT as long as possible, 83% say it is because they are confident in the roadworthiness of their vehicle.

This is despite the test covering some areas which are difficult or impossible for a driver to check themselves such as seatbelt safety, brakes and exhaust emissions, according to head of RAC Motoring Services Adam O’Neill.

He said: “Since the coronavirus lockdown took effect, hundreds of thousands of vehicles every month have been missing their normal MOTs and in turn there’s a risk that more unroadworthy cars are now on our roads, especially as many more of us are now driving compared to March.

“It’s encouraging therefore to see that a large proportion of people we surveyed clearly care about the condition of their cars and aren’t being put off from getting them through their MOTs or serviced as normal.

“But at the same time there understandably remain some drivers who are worried about how safe it is to visit a garage during the pandemic.”

Some 2,200 drivers were surveyed for the research.

All cars, vans and motorcycles in Britain have been eligible to delay MOT testing since March 30 due to the pandemic, while drivers in Northern Ireland have been given a one-year exemption.

A separate report by road safety charity Brake and breakdown rescue firm Green Flag highlighted the dangers of millions of drivers delaying an MOT.

It cited Government test data showing that of the 37 million cars and vans licensed in Britain, nearly a third fail their initial MOT with more than a fifth having a major defect.

A survey of 2,019 drivers suggested that 9% never conduct safety checks on their vehicles, with a further 27% only doing so once a year.

A fifth (20%) of respondents admitted to driving a car that was not roadworthy, rising to 38% for those aged 18-34.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that 39 people were killed and 378 seriously injured on Britain’s roads in crashes where a vehicle defect was a contributory factor in 2018.

Brake director of campaigns Joshua Harris stressed the importance of regular safety checks of vehicles.

“Even minor defects, like a worn wiper blade, can play a part in a catastrophic crash,” he said.

“Drivers have a responsibility for a vehicle’s safety and this is a responsibility which should not be taken lightly.

“We urge all drivers to perform regular walk-round checks of their vehicle, once a week and before any long journeys.

“It is a couple of minutes which could be the difference between life and death.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The MOT exemption was introduced to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Drivers, by law, must ensure their vehicle is roadworthy at all times and the DVSA has issued guidance to drivers on how to keep a car safe.

“Garages have been allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic to ensure cars can be fixed and maintained.”