Last call for all overdue-NCT car owners: Penalty points lie ahead
* Our Road Safety Authority expert reveals how 150,000 owners are risking fines and points
This week I'm returning to a topic which always fills up the letters to the Motoring Editor's inbox - the National Car Testing Service. It's a topic many people just love to hate.
But no matter how much someone protests, the NCT plays a fundamental part in the success of road safety. It improves vehicle safety and reduces harmful emissions.
Every owner has a legal responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition at all times.
The NCT is a check to ensure the vehicle meets a set of minimum standards at the time of the test. It does not confer any guarantee or warranty.
The responsibility rests on drivers and owners of vehicles to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy the other 364 days of the year.
Unfortunately many people simply ignore or completely fail to make sure their vehicle is in good shape outside of the test.
A classic example is the way people use the NCT as a diagnostic. They throw their car into the NCT, without it having been serviced, to get a list of problem areas on the car, which they then hand to their mechanic to sort out before resubmitting the car for another test.
If people stopped doing this, I'd say we would have a higher pass rate in the NCT and it would certainly help free up the number of NCT appointments.
And just how poor an attitude we have to vehicle maintenance will be backed up later this year when we publish data that indicates poor tyres, in particular, are a bigger factor in fatal collisions than previously thought.
A bigger problem, however, are the owners of approximately 150,000 vehicles that are overdue their NCT roadworthiness test and not booked into the system.
The vast majority of the 1.9 million vehicle owners in the country get their vehicle tested as required.
Unfortunately, a minority do not and it is they who are putting their lives and others at risk by driving vehicles that may be dangerously defective, for example with poor brakes, worn suspension, worn tyres, or defective lighting.
It is simply unfair that such people fail to get their vehicle tested while the majority are law-abiding, doing the right thing and getting their vehicle tested on time.
The Minister for Transport brought the offence of not having a valid NCT within the fixed-charge payment system on December 8 last.
That is so people have the option of paying €60 and receiving three penalty points on payment of the fixed charge rather than automatically going to court.
Since then the number of vehicles overdue their NCT has fallen by 36pc. This is good news for road safety.
Despite that, there are still 150,000 who have not heeded the message. So in an effort to address this, the operator of the NCTS has over the summer been issuing a reminder to owners of all overdue vehicles.
It has strongly advised them to get their vehicle tested as soon as possible or face three penalty points and a €60 fine.
Owners of vehicles overdue the test should heed this advice because the Road Safety Authority and the National Car Testing Service are also warning them they should not expect to be prioritised at busy periods later this year and in the first half of next year.
Those drivers should also be aware that where a vehicle is tested late, the certificate is valid from the date of the actual test until the next date on which the test is normally due.
This can result in a certificate of less than two years (or one year) duration, depending on the age of the vehicle. This is a good time to get tested. There are no backlogs at NCT. There are no more excuses.
You can book a NCT at www.ncts.ie or call 01 4135992. Commercial vehicle owners can book online at www.cvrt.ie