Apr 16, 2009

NCT Penalty Points Panic in Ireland

THE SURPRISE introduction of new penalty point offences in Ireland for motorists has thrown the National Car Test (NCT) system into chaos.

Hundreds of worried motorists attempted to contact the NCT centre in Tallaght yesterday after Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey announced over the weekend that failing to keep your NCT up to date would incur penalty points from next month. It was already a fineable offence nefore now - so why the panic. In the UK they have a database that tells them all the cars without an MOT cert - it is all computerised. Here in Ireland we rely on a random spot check to spot all these dangerous cars on the road. Are the Guards blind or lazy? I see lots of cars each week with one headlight or one brake light. Why are they not stopped?

More than 835,000 cars were tested for roadworthiness in 43 NCT test centres across the country last year.Just over half (52pc) passed the National Car Test (NCT) on the first attempt. The pass rate has remained around the 50pc mark since 2004.

Another 385,000 had to repeat the test, with a repeat pass rate of 91pc. Failures can be appealed.

Cars four years or older are subject to the test, which was introduced in 2000. Cars must pass every two years after the initial test. Vintage cars over 30 years and cars based on the islands are exempt.

While most motorists are informed when their test is due, it is up to the owner of the vehicle to ensure that their car has a valid NCT. Drivers without an NCT certificate face a €1,500 fine, but, until now, have not incurred penalty points.

Spanish company Applus+ will take over testing from next January after winning a 10-year contract from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) earlier this year. The test fee of €50 and retest fee of €28 will stay the same until at least 2011.

A review of the NCT is also being carried out by the RSA, which could see customised cars with blacked-out windows and loud exhausts automatically failing the test.

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