NCT, tax and insurance discs should be abolished on cars, and all Garda vehicles equipped with number plate recognition technology which would provide up-to-date information on non-compliance.
So says the AA’s director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan who said it would have a number of benefits, including the eradication of fake discs which have become common since the invention of colour printers.
“There are just under 2.5 million vehicles on Irish roads that between them display approximately 6.5 million paper discs. The most conservative estimate of the cost of producing and posting these discs and the administration behind checking them is €10m annually,” Mr Faughnan said.
He said in previous years they may have been a reasonable way to prove that your car was compliant, but since the invention of colour printers they have become “a fraudster’s charter”.
“It is almost comically easy to print a passable fake that will pass the ‘Garda torch test’, which is as close as they ever get to real scrutiny,” Mr Faughnan said.
He said fraud is adding a minimum of €40 to the cost of an average policy.
“We want to see the discs removed, as has been done in the UK last October, and replaced with a database look-up system and the provision of automatic number-plate recognition technology for the gardaí,” he saids. At present around 80% of the country’s 136 traffic corps vehicles are equipped with the system.
They use optical character recognition and can read six number plates per second on vehicles travelling up to 180kph. The cost of the equipment purchased so far is a little over €6m.
“ Every time you pass the M50 toll, your number plate is read. I know of no good reason why untaxed or uninsured cars should not be immediately notified to the garda,” Mr Faughnan said.
The National Vehicle and Driver File is maintained by the Department of Transport at its facility in Shannon. It contains the details of every registered vehicle and all 2.6 million licensed drivers.
“It is relatively simple to construct a system whereby a garda can point a smartphone at a registration plate or key in a number and immediately see whether or not a car is taxed or has a valid NCT,” he said.
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