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Consumer group hits out at plan for annual car tests

THE Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI) has criticised the decision to introduce annual NCTs on cars over 10 years old from June.

Although the Road Safety Authority (RSA) called for more frequent testing of older vehicles in 2009, a start date of this summer has only just been announced. It means that 120,000 extra cars will have to undergo a NCT each year.

The CAI said this would impose an additional cost of €50 a year in test fees on hard-pressed motorists with no evidence that it would improve safety -- although the RSA strongly refuted this.

Up to now, motorists only have to get cars older than four years tested every two years.

CAI vice-chairman Michael Kilcoyne said the move would be a big revenue raiser for government, who get VAT on all the test fees. "There is no evidence whatsoever that a car needs to go back every year for a test, or that it will improve safety," he said.

Many drivers of older cars did very low mileage. To test those cars every year would not achieve anything but would raise more money, he said.

A spokesperson for the NCT said the change to a yearly testing regime for older cars would not affect the validity of NCT certificates issued before this June, so a 10-year-old car with a cert that was valid for two years would not be due in for another test until 2012, she said.

The RSA said that they were disappointed to hear the CAI criticisms as they had not made any submission during their public consultation on the matter and this was an important preventative measure.

Many other European countries had similar testing frequency and some had even more frequent tests, the RSA spokesperson said.

Figures from the NCT show that almost 900,000 full NCT tests were carried out during 2010, with just over half (462,263) of these passing first time.

Irish Independent