60 cars being seized daily by gardai in crackdown for safety
GARDAI are seizing more than 60 cars and trucks a day because they are untaxed, uninsured or not roadworthy.
New figures show that some 22,466 vehicles – an average of approximately 61 a day – were taken from drivers at the roadside last year amid major concerns about their safety.
And almost 100,000 vehicles have been seized since 2009, official figures show, but the number is falling.
In 2009, some 27,153 vehicles were taken which has fallen to almost 22,500 last year.
A detailed breakdown setting out the reasons for seizure is not available but the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said many were taken off the road because they were dangerous.
Chief executive Noel Brett said unsafe vehicles were a major cause for concern as the condition of the car or truck was a factor in 1pc of all fatal collisions.
The RSA has warned in recent weeks that motorists are cutting back on basic maintenance, including changing tyres, in an attempt to save money.
When people refuse to tax or insure their cars it leads to higher bills for other motorists, the RSA said.
"That's an awful lot of seizures. The roadworthiness of a vehicle is a critical factor in keeping citizens safe on the road," Mr Brett said.
"We're disappointed to see this amount of vehicles seized, we would much rather motorists maintain their vehicles.
"In relation to uninsured or untaxed vehicles, it places a burden on people who comply with the law.
"Every insurance policy now includes an amount to provide cover for uninsured motorists. That's a burden on good citizens."
Gardai have extensive powers under the Road Traffic Acts to seize vehicles for a range of offences. They include no proof of having a roadworthiness test, or NCT, no tax for two months or more, no insurance, or failure to hold a licence.
The vehicles are held for six weeks, and if left unclaimed can be disposed of.
More than 5,800 motorists have been issued penalty points for using a vehicle without an NCT cert. Another 902 have points for not having a certificate of roadworthiness, and 98 have been prosecuted for driving a dangerously defective vehicle.
The most recent figures from the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, which compensates victims of road collisions caused by uninsured or unidentified drivers, shows that 2,331 claims were made in 2011.
Three in every four related to uninsured drivers, chief executive John Casey said, and the number of claims was up slightly on 2010. Some 406 involved foreign-registered cars, down from more than 1,000 a year at the height of the boom.
There was 2,436 claims settled in 2011 at a cost of €58m. This included legal, medical and hospital bills. The payments are funded through a levy on insurance policies.