21 April 2016
Ireland’s NCT is Completely Reliable
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) would like to clarify a crucial point following last night’s Prime Time programme about the NCT and suspension tests, to ensure that car-owners are not misled or misinformed by the programme.
Ireland’s NCT test is completely reliable. The NCT test in every country in Europe is governed by the same EU Directive. The NCT in Ireland complies one hundred per cent with every requirement of the EU Directive. But in addition, the NCT in Ireland goes above and beyond the requirements of the Directive and is internationally recognised as one of the best tests – if not the best test – in Europe.
It is a mandatory requirement of the EU Directive to conduct a visual suspension test. Ireland meets – and exceeds - this requirement. In addition to the mandatory visual suspension test, the NCT in Ireland conducts a suspension performance test or a balance test. This additional balance test is done in line with the best technology currently available in the EU.
We disagree with the view put forward on the Primetime programme that results above 80 Mahameters should result in a warning to customers that their shock absorbers are defective. We disagree based on the best research. All of this research was made available to RTE.
The balance test conducted during an NCT cannot be interpreted in the way suggested by RTE. Research shows that even a car with brand new shock absorbers can have high readings. There is no single approved method of testing available that can give a threshold to accurately determine whether a car’s shock absorber is defective. As soon as a method is developed to determine this and which is subsequently approved and endorsed by recognised European governing bodies, the RSA will be at the forefront in implementing it in Ireland, as we have already been at the forefront in having one of the most rigorous NCT tests in Europe.
The RSA sympathises deeply with the family of Amanda O’Flaherty who tragically died in a collision in 2012. We are satisfied that Amanda’s car was tested correctly at the NCT seven months previously, that the results of the test were unremarkable and would not have given an NCT inspector any cause for alarm. This is supported by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in the UK (recognised worldwide for leading evidential research) who have examined the case independently.
We completely disagree with the assessor’s report - conducted almost two years after the car went through the NCT (again, based on the leading research). The Gardaí have investigated this case and a file was subsequently sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for review. The DPP decided to take no action and the case is now closed.
Our mission in the RSA is saving lives on Ireland’s roads. That is why, from day one, we made the NCT in Ireland even more rigorous than in other member states, more rigorous than we are required to by EU Directive. The NCT in Ireland has saved many lives by removing great numbers of defective cars from our roads.
We would finish with a number of other important clarifications:
- In relation to brakes: brake lines and brake hoses are one of the highest fail items in NCTs. In 2015, there were almost 86,000 fails (11.2%) for brake lines and brake hoses. Brake discs are examined under Item 52 of the NCT Manual and in 2015 24,518 (3.2%) vehicles failed under this item. All brake tests conducted in Ireland’s NCT are fully in line with EU requirements and the practice in other EU Member States.
- It is the responsibility of every car owner to ensure that their vehicle is regularly serviced and is maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition. The NCT is not – and could not be - a detailed mechanical check of roadworthiness which would require dismantling of the vehicle.
- Unscrupulous vendors who may disguise serious roadworthiness issues on vehicles for sale to unsuspecting consumers are a concern to the RSA. If you are buying a car you should get an independent mechanic to do a complete check and give you assurances about what you are buying. This however is NOT the task of the NCT. If an older car is being sold at a low price, we would urge consumers to be very careful, both for their own safety, and for the safety of other road users.
See the report here from the Transport Research laboratory (TRL)
See here the NCT Technical Facts that were supplied to RTE's Prime Time
See here note regarding the variances in the Pass/Fail rates at NCTS