Why I won't get into a taxi older than six years
Focus on older cars: SIMI president James Brooks urges action
Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30
I WILL not get into a taxi older than six years. That is based purely on the fact that a newer car will usually have more airbags and safety features.
And if an accident takes place I know which car I want to be travelling in.
It costs the same to travel in a three-year-old taxi as a 12-year-old one. So I vote with my feet.
As SIMI president, I hope to raise the profile of the role that car maintenance and an ageing vehicle population plays in saving lives.
There is no doubt the safety systems in newer cars have advanced significantly over the last five years.
Closer to home, I believe the government and taxi regulator needs to examine the age of the taxi fleet here. If the average taxi does 50,000-60,000km a year, a 10-year-old taxi could have 600,000km on it.
And while I accept most taxis are bought secondhand thereby lowering the average mileage, some of the fleet out there is creaking.
There was talk a couple of years ago of introducing an age restriction of nine years on a taxi but it disappeared. I recognise the taxi business is tough but we have to raise standards for international visitors and the general public.
Perhaps the government could provide some additional support to taxi drivers who invest in refreshing their fleet. We have a tourist industry with great standards in hotels and food.
Yet in many cases they are ferried from the airport in a 10-year-old vehicle. I would like to see them carried in vehicles that match the high standards in the rest of the industry.
Some of the stats make for uncomfortable reading when it comes to the condition of our vehicles.
Last year almost 1.2 million (1,170,000) cars were tested by the NCTs out of a total of 1.9 million; 545,000 passed first time(47pc), 621,000 failed (53pc); 4,300 failed 'dangerously'.
And those are only the cars that were tested. We have seen a greater uptake in the number of cars been tested in the first six months of this year; 754,000 tested, 370,000 passed (49pc), 382,000 failed (51pc), 2,700 failed dangerously.
What scares me most is why these cars are failing. Front suspensions and tyre conditions are the two most common faults.
The number being tested is rising. However, the concern for us all must be is that there are cars on the road ignoring the NCT process and their condition and safety are a great concern.
We understand that people in tight times are putting off maintenance.
How many times have you driven behind a car with one or more brake lights broken? But there are plenty of garages with attractive service deals.
And you would have to ask what price do you put on the safety of your family?
What about the cars that don't go for a test?
Are they taxed? Are they even insured? Most of us have, unfortunately, been to the funeral of a road traffic accident. Horrific is the word that comes to mind. And it's getting worse this year. Sadly while new cars are safer than ever, an ageing vehicle parc will play a role in increased road deaths. The average age of the national car fleet will reach 10 years in 2015 - one of the oldest in Europe. The average taxi age is probably already more than that. Obviously a new car has far better safety equipment than the equivalent model of 10 years ago. So while the SIMI is about developing our industry and protecting jobs, I hope over the next 12 months to raise the profile of the need to maintain your car correctly.
As President of the SIMI, I would call on the new Minister of Transport to give the gardai the resources to step up their check points for cars that are being driven illegally without a valid NCT certificate. There is a system there to protect the public and our children. And it needs to be enforced.