Six deaths a year blamed on written-off cars

At least six people die on Irish roads every year because of the Government’s failure to ensure written-off cars are not allowed to return to the country’s roads.

Vehicle history check group, www.cartell.ie, made the claim after revealing more than 200,000 written-off cars are still being driven in Ireland, carrying with them hidden dangers that put owners’ lives at risk.

According to the independent organisation, 36,000 vehicles are written off in this country every year due to the damage sustained in accidents or as a result of long-term usage.

However, of these, at least 24,000 are repaired and returned to the motorways — a figure which has resulted in the 200,000 rate, and includes 3,000 a year whose owners have been told are no longer roadworthy for the second time.

Cartell.ie said the issue is leading to a minimum of six deaths every year as drivers are unaware of potential problems with the vehicles, including faulty airbags, heat and mechanical deformation and “structurally vulnerable” cars whose chassis are no longer safely aligned.

And urging action to be taken by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, it said thousands of people are travelling in vehicles with serious defects that will not be apparent until an accident, “by which time it is obviously too late”.

“Vehicles written off by an insurer and returned to the road may not be as safe as before the incident,” a www.cartell.ie spokesperson explained.

“Any structural welds can change the properties of metal and may make it more brittle in certain areas. Worse still, these defects may only manifest themselves in a subsequent impact.

“The number of Irish road deaths rose in 2013 to 189, an increase of 18% over 2012.

“Proper regulation of write-offs, and proper testing of vehicles for structural defects before written-off vehicles return to the roads, will assist in reducing the number of road deaths.

“At least six deaths occur per annum in vehicles which were previously written off,” the spokesperson said.

Among the concerns raised by the group over the current written-off vehicle checks is that the national car test (NCT) is not required to detect structural problems, an issue www.cartell.ie said should be addressed “without delay”.

The issue has previously been raised in Britain after the death of six-year-old Sadie Murphy, who lost her life in July 2012 while travelling in her family’s car. A coroner’s court hearing heard the Vauxhall Corsa, which was hit by another vehicle in Flintshire, Wales, had been repaired after being written-off by insurers in 2008.

North East Wales coroner John Gittins said he had serious concerns over how the vehicle was being driven “legally and legitimately” when the integrity of the vehicle had been compromised four years earlier.

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