CARS written off following collisions will be given a 'death certificate', making it illegal to drive them on public roads.
Owners face the prospect of being fined or being hauled before the courts unless they secure the certificate under rules aimed at tackling the use of dangerous vehicles on our roads.
The proposals will be contained in the Road Traffic Bill to be published later this year and will oblige the vehicle owner to inform the Department of Transport that their car has been written off, or deemed by their insurance company to be uneconomical to repair.
Currently, the Department's National Vehicle Driver File (NVDF) maintains a database of vehicles notified by insurance firms as being written off -- with 40,000 vehicles falling into this category over the past five years.
It means that these vehicles are then 'locked down', meaning they cannot be sold, taxed or insured. Anybody found driving these vehicles is subject to penalty points and fines for driving an unsafe vehicle, but the new laws are designed to increase the sanctions.
"The use of written-off vehicles on Irish roads is of concern to me and their effective control is an important factor in ensuring a high standard of safety," Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said.
"It is an offence under road traffic law to drive an unsafe vehicle that presents a danger to road users."
The administrative process, however, does not have a statutory footing and does not account for vehicles often referred to as 'economic write-offs', even where such vehicles are badly damaged.
Written-off vehicles imported from another country are also not accounted for. "I am proposing to introduce a statutory control procedure. The objective of this would be to ensure that severely and irreparably damaged vehicles are never let back on the road," Mr Varadkar said.
In cases where the insurance company writes off the vehicle but it can be repaired, the owner will have to have it independently verified as being safe to drive before it can return to the roads.
The Road Safety Authority is likely to oversee this process and confirm that the car is roadworthy.
In cases where the car is too badly damaged to repair, a 'death certificate' will be issued, making it illegal to drive it.
Offenders are expected to face sanctions, but the fines and penalties have not yet been decided. The Department of Transport is in consultation with the Attorney General, and the details are expected over the coming months.