Friday 28 October 2016

Anton Savage: 'Has anyone got any evidence that the NCT is money well spent? Anyone?'

Anton Savage

Published 14/04/2016 | 08:19


Last week I suggested that the NCT was in a spot of bother. The Road Safety Authority (RSA) had released figures showing that in the period of the car test’s operation, road deaths caused by vehicle defects had increased by 2000pc.

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I suggested that this showed either the NCT was useless or that the RSA’s numbers were somewhat woolly. It turns out to be the latter.

The RSA wrote to me to let me know the data they used 10 years ago was based on ‘preliminary reports at the scene of a crash’ whereas they now use ‘completed Forensic Investigation Files’. So according to them, it isn’t that vehicle factors have become 20 times worse, the RSA just used to underestimate them. A lot.

In theory we should give them a pass on their old numbers and buy into their new analysis.

Read more: Anton Savage: The NCT has much bigger problems than refusing to test smelly cars

But it’s best not to read their latest report too closely if you want to accept the new numbers. Otherwise you might hit this sentence: “In the majority of the 66 collisions involving defective tyres, it was a combination of tyres and behavioural factors such as the presence of alcohol, drugs, speed, distraction, fatigue factors that led to the final outcome of the collision.”

That’s right – if a drunk, high, or speeding driver collides with a tree while using the wrong size tyres, they log the tyres as a contributor.

Common sense would suggest that in the big scheme of crash causes, tyres are in the ha’penny place compared to cocaine, but they get counted nonetheless. Only three crashes in four years were caused exclusively by tyre problems.

We’ve spent more than half a billion euro on the NCT, chasing these kind of vehicle problems. It may be money well spent. Or it may be a complete waste. This report gets us no closer to knowing.

As the RSA’s CEO put it in her letter: “If there was no NCT how many more people could have died on Irish roads due to vehicle defects?”

That’s exactly the question we need to be able to answer. I asked her for some objective data that could do just that.

There was no response.

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