The Minister of Transport, Leo Varadkar, is moving to deal with two issues that have been a dark shadow over the motor industry for a long time. The offences of car mileage clocking and write-offs returning to the road, perpetrated by a small number in the Irish motor industry, are at long last having their actions legislated for, with legal sanctions being put in place.
Clocking now officially an offence
The Transport, Tourism and Sports Minister, Leo Varadkar, moved amendments to the Road Traffic (No 2) Bill 2013, having passed through the report stage in the Dail. It addressed the issue of “clocking.
The Minister will now introduce “Death Certificates” for vehicles written off as the result of collision damage and is set to appoint the Road Safety Authority to oversee a new process of independently verifying repaired vehicles before they are returned to the roads.
The amendment to the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2013 makes it an offence to interfere with the odometer of a motor vehicle, and it will carry a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment.
We await confirmation that it also grants the power of arrest to a garda who has reasonable grounds for believing a person has committed such an offence, or, is in the process of committing such an offence, and also if it introduces a defence for a person (eg, a mechanic/technician in the trade) who was acting in good faith in order to test, repair or replace the odometer of the motor vehicle.
The Government has also been commended by Cartell.ie for its swift action on the issue of regulation of vehicle write-offs. Earlier this month Cartell issued a press statement, which estimated that at least six deaths occur each year in vehicles which were previously written off.
In 2010, Cartell launched the Motor Insurance Anti Fraud and Theft Register which stores details from Irish insurers on vehicles written off in the Republic of Ireland, as well as permitting Irish customers to track vehicles written off in the United Kingdom. This was the world’s first cross boarder write-off database.
The National Vehicle Driver File maintains a database of vehicles (40,000 in the past five years) damaged beyond repair as notified by insurance companies. Any vehicle on the NVDF, cannot renew annual motor tax or carry out a change of ownership.
Currently it is an offence under road traffic law to drive an unsafe vehicle that endangers other road users. The arrangement whereby insurers indicate that written-off vehicles stay off the road has lacked a statutory footing. There is also the area of “economic write-offs” – where the price of repair is greater than the vehicle’s value. And finally, vehicles imported that have been written-off abroad, were not on the insurers radar.
Minister Varadkar now plans to tackle all these issues by introducing a statutory control procedure for written-off vehicles, with the aforementioned ‘Death Certifcates’.
“The objective of this would be to ensure that severely and irreparably damaged vehicles are never let back on the road, and, where a written-off vehicle can be repaired, it will only be allowed back into service if repaired to acceptable standards, with such repairs being independently assessed and certified,” Mr Varadkar said.
There will new sanctions for anyone who breaches the new procedures, and all of this under the auspices of the RSA will be included in the Road Traffic Bill 2014.
Jeff Aherne, director at Cartell.ie, says: “We are delighted the Government is acting swiftly on this issue and appears set to ensure the Road Safety Authority oversees a new process to independently verify repair work to vehicles before they are put back on the road. A mandatory notification procedure, placing on a legislative footing an obligation on all insurers to register write-offs with the Government, or the RSA, is required as a matter of urgency to ensure our roads are cleaned up.”