In response to claims by Senator John Whelan that undue NCT delays were making an ‘ass of the law’, (see story here) the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has issued a statement answering the questions raised.
In the statement, the RSA point out that the requirement to have a valid NCT is nothing new and has been in place since 2000. Furthermore, penalty points have applied for a conviction for driving without a valid NCT since 2009. It subsequently became a fixed charge offence on December 8, 2014.
It was anticipated that the introduction of the fixed charge would lead to increased demand and for this reason the RSA say that it took steps to ensure that customers were aware of the changes to the penalty points well in advance of the change. A significant national and local radio advertising campaign was run in early October and November advising vehicle owners to book in early for test.
The RSA state that the introduction of the fixed charge offence ‘should encourage all cars owners to abide by the law’ adding that the evidence so far is that people who were previously overdue their tests are now seeking tests.
Figures show that 12% of the tests in December were more than six months overdue the test.
The RSA statement notes, “It is good news for road safety that more cars are having their roadworthiness test earlier. As evidence of this, in the last three months of 2014 approximately 56,000 more cars were tested than in the same period the previous year, an increase of 26%. This increase has been accommodated by NCTS.
“On top of this, there is always very high demand for NCTs in the early part of each year because tests are due on the anniversary of first registration and the vast majority of vehicles are registered in the first half of the year, for example, this year 48% of cars due for testing are registered in the first quarter and circa 77% in the first six months. “
The RSA note that the consequent demand for tests puts pressure on NCTS and makes it difficult to obtain tests at short notice. Therefore NCTS manages the allocation of staff and the release of test slots very carefully. Customers are advised that if they cannot obtain a suitable slot online to contact the NCTS call centre directly at 01 4135992 for a phone booking.
Customers requesting a test are currently getting a test appointment, on average, within three weeks, with the vast majority getting their appointments within four weeks. Retest appointments are, on average booked within six days.
Additional vehicle inspectors have been deployed since the beginning of January, which will enable more owners to have their vehicles tested on time, over the peak period, than has been the case in the past. Customers are asked to be patient at this busy time and all will be accommodated as soon as possible.
Gardaí have previously advised that they will take a common sense approach to enforcement and have asked owners to carry proof of a test appointment with them, however Gardaí retain the discretion to decide if it is appropriate to issue a fixed charge notice, particularly in cases where some time has elapsed since the last NCT expired.