Backlog in NCT cleared, says minister
Schemese such as all-night car testing in Dublin and Cork have helped eliminate the NCT backlog, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said.
The introduction of fixed fines and penalty points earlier this year led to delays averaging more than a month and leaving drivers without their NCT disc open to immediate penalties.
But Mr Donohoe said that extended opening hours, including round-the-clock 24-hour testing in Dublin and Cork, had now meant drivers could get the test when they needed it.
"The vast majority of test centres have either no waiting list or a very short one," Mr Donohoe said.
"The National Car Testing Service tested record numbers of vehicles in 2014 and in the current year, to date, the number of vehicles tested each month is an average 9pc higher than in the corresponding months of last year," the Minister added.
The Transport Minister said a total of 584 testers were now working at the centres with extra facilities opened in Mullingar, Blarney, Naas and Portlaoise to increase the through-put. In Galway, Enniscorthy, Killarney and Ballina test centres operate from 7am to 11pm.
The majority of test centres have late openings on three days per week until 10pm and 10 centres have extended opening on four days per week. Since early March, 24-hour testing is available in Dublin and Cork.
The fixed penalty of a €60 fine and three penalty points took effect on December 8 last. Since 2009 there was a penalty of five penalty points applicable by the courts and alleged offenders can still opt for a court appearance at risk of the higher penalty.
Officials said that people could avoid any risk of delay by applying early and vehicles can be tested up to 90 days ahead of the expiry date without losing any of the cover period.
The busiest time of year for car-testing remains the first quarter of the year. Officials say that by now 90pc of motorists comply with the requirement to have their car tested.
But the Road Safety Authority reckons 200,000 cars, in a national fleet of about 1.9 million, do not have an NCT. But compliance is increasing and in the last quarter of 2014 26pc more cars were tested than in the same period in 2013.
Motorists are also moving towards earlier testing. In February 41pc of vehicles were submitted ahead of expiry date; 29pc were on time and 30pc were beyond the expiry date.