MOTORISTS with missing or broken headlights face the prospect of being hit with a €60 on-the-spot fine from tomorrow.
Gardai have announced a major crackdown on defective lighting after it emerged that one in five cars on the road is failing the NCT because it is not properly lit up.
A national operation called 'Light Up' will be mounted tomorrow and Thursday, when cars, trucks and motorcycles will be stopped at checkpoints and motorists hit with fines.
Some 550,000 cars have failed the test because of defective, broken or missing lights, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has said.
Operation Light Up comes about because of concerns about the number of cars on the roads with just one headlight or tail light.
Gardai are also concerned that people are using fog lights when they are not needed, which can cause collisions because the high-intensity beams can dazzle and distract other drivers.
"Members of the public have frequently been advised and reminded of the necessity to ensure all legally required lights and lamps are in working order," the Garda Press Office said.
"Whilst financial constraints are appreciated, it is very apparent that some are not heeding the message.
"This situation, left unchecked, creates significant danger to all road users. Drivers of vehicles with defective lighting will have compromised visibility. In addition, drivers of other vehicles could easily mistake a vehicle with one headlight with, for example, a motorcycle. On a dark, narrow road, this could lead to a very serious road traffic collision."
The operation will be across all garda divisions and comes following a spike in road deaths so far this year.
As of 9am yesterday, a total of 30 people have been killed on the roads, 12 more than on the same date in 2012.
Gardai said that motorists – including truck drivers and motorcyclists – were being advised that a crackdown on defective lighting would take place to allow them an opportunity to make necessary repairs and avoid prosecution.
Gardai can issue an on-the-spot fine of €60, and fixed charge penalties will be imposed.
"We are advising the public of what will be happening in advance," Assistant Garda Commissioner Gerard Phillips said. "We would prefer to have the defect remedied rather than prosecute."
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said that last year over 550,000 cars were found to have defective lights at the NCT – one in five of the national fleet.
He urged motorists to slow down and help reduce the carnage on the roads.
"It has not been a good start to 2013 for road safety," he said. "Thirty lives tragically cut short, all avoidable deaths."