Why it's end of the road for owners of cars overdue NCT test
* Our Road Safety Authority expert has a stern warning this week for those with un-tested cars
Towards the end of last year and in the early part of 2015, the NCTS was under pressure to meet customer demand for appointments.
That was due to a surge of requests for NCTs from the owners of cars overdue their tests.
Drivers wanted to get their cars tested because the Minister for Transport had, in early December, introduced three penalty points and a fine for failing to have a valid NCT certificate.
At the time there were almost 400,000 vehicles overdue their NCT.
No wonder the result was long waiting times.
Uncertificated drivers were competing with law-abiding citizens for an appointment.
While it was a difficult time for all, it did eventually have a positive impact on road safety.
Currently the number of 'overdues' has more than halved to 161,000 compared with 371,000 at the same time last year.
And of the 161,000 drivers overdue, 45,000 are already booked into the system.
This is welcome and it is good news for road safety.
This year the NCTS wants to avoid a repeat of the problem. Part of the solution has been to eliminate overdue vehicles on the system.
The owners of these vehicles should have received notifications setting out the consequences of not having a valid NCT certificate (three penalty points and a €60 fine).
They have also been warned they will not be a priority during the busy period of the year if they don't heed the alert to have their vehicles tested now.
In addition, the Customer Charter has been changed so that those with a car more than a week overdue for testing will no longer be eligible for a free test.
The purpose of the free test is to ensure good customer service, whereas, in the past year many of those who have benefitted from this measure have been breaking the law by leaving their cars untested for lengthy periods.
If you are overdue a test and bring a car in late your test certificate will only be valid from the date of the actual test until the next date on which it is normally due.
This will result in a certificate of less than two year's (or one year) duration, depending on the age of the vehicle.
Those who don't have a valid NCT certificate should also be aware that NCT data is now supplied to the gardaí, so they can target those who are failing to ensure their cars are roadworthy.
If you are stopped with no NCT you risk having your car towed away immediately by the gardai. When you get it back you will have to wait for an NCT appointment. You won't be prioritised and you won't be able to drive your car on the road.
The vast majority of the 1.9 million vehicle owners in this country get their vehicle tested when they are required.
It's the minority who do not and they are putting lives at risk by driving vehicles that may be dangerously defective with, for example, poor brakes, worn suspension, bald tyres, or defective lighting.
So if you are one of the approximately 115,000 owners overdue or not booked in for your NCT, the message is simple. Get it tested now.
Don't expect to be prioritised by the NCTS.
It is simply not fair on those owners who make the effort to get their cars booked in on time. Gardaí are now in possession of your details and have the ability to detect your car.
This is a good time to get tested. There are no backlogs at NCT. And there are no more excuses.