Mother’s fight for safe vehicles - Car tests not fit for purpose

Mother’s fight for safe vehicles - Car tests not fit for purpose
Paula Murphy at the scene of the crash near Cobh, Co Cork, which resulted in the death of her daughter Amanda in December 2012. Picture: Denis Minihane.

If there is an area in which an argument for more, not less, harmonisation of regulations across the European Union, it’s the one that can be made for a change that would give drivers the best possible guarantee that when they buy a car of four years and older is in a roadworthy condition.

The death of a 27-year-old woman following a crash in Cork in 2012 highlights the problem in a system not fit for purpose.

The story of her tragic death and that of her mother’s campaign to get car testing regimes here and across the EU improved is told in our special report today.

While the legal processes arising from that death have taken some years to reach a conclusion, the essential facts in the case are all too comprehensible.

The inquest into the death was told the vehicle was not roadworthy at the time of the accident because its rear suspension had defects that rendered it unstable before and during cornering.

An examination of the National Car Test (NCT) results sheet identified a failing in the suspension test system. A Cork Circuit Court judge concluded the company that conducts car tests was negligent in passing a defective car that they had examined, thus letting it back on the road.

Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of a heart-broken mother, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has instructed the NCT’s contractor to develop an improved suspension test.

The RSA insists the current testing regime — which was clearly inadequate in 2012 — exceeds EU requirements. If that is right, an improved and standardised test is needed in all of the 27 member states.

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