The number of dangerous cars on our roads are a serious risk to all road users
Official statistics released by Applus, the organisation which runs the NCT in Ireland, today revealed that the number of cars that were deemed "Fail Dangerous" increased to 3,059 in the first six months of 2015 compared with 4,800 for the full year 2014. Whilst the increase in volume can be explained by a total increase in volume in the number of tests performed when compared to last year (650k tests were performed in 2014 compared with 400k tests in the first half of 2015), the number of seriously dangerous cars that are driving around on the road today are still a major cause for concern.
Fail Dangerous Causes
The type of things that cause a vehicle to receive a "Fail Dangerous" result are:
- Tyres that were so bald damaged or bulging that there was a risk of malfunction or blow-out.
- Serious brake fluid leaks due to dangerously corroded lines or hoses.
- Badly corroded bodywork such that the vehicle is deemed to be structurally dangerous.
- Risk of fire caused by leaks in fuel hoses which may be leaking onto the engine or dripping onto the ground.
- Doors badly aligned such that they could not be properly closed, which usually indicates shoddy body repairs.
When a "Fail Dangerous" result occurs on the NCT the owner is notified of the risk and a sticker is placed on the car, they are informed that driving the car would be committing a criminal offence and are advised that the vehicle should be towed away from the test centre. If the owner states that they intend driving the car they are advised that the Gardai will be notified.
The overall rate of "Failed Dangerous" cars might seem small at 0.4% of tests carried out. However, when this is extrapolated out the the entire national fleet we could have more than 10,000 vehicles driving around our roads on a daily basis which are a serious road safety risk to both the occupants of the vehicle and other road users.
I spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk about this issue recently:
In addition to the dangerous cars being caught by the NCT, Motorcheck has highlighted a serious concern over Written-off cars which are repaired and put back on the road. There is no standard procedure, in law or otherwise, to ensure that cars which have been declared Category C or D write-offs are inspected and passed fit for the road before they are used on the road again. In total there are approximately 70k insurance write-offs annually in Ireland. Our research shows that a large portion of these are repaired and returned to the road. Waiting for the NCT could mean that cars can be shoddily repaired and returned to the road and may not be subject to an NCT for another 1-4 years dependant on their age. This is a very long time period where unsuspecting road users lives and the lives of others are potentially at risk. Whilst the legislation on this matter is currently under review, the changes are required sooner rather than later.
The statistics published today on "fail dangerous" results from the NCT underlines the need for anyone considering the purchase of a used car to check its history before they part with their money. However so much more could be done at a government level to ensure that cars which are written-off and repaired are repaired to a good standard or do not make it back to the road at all.