Bereaved mother whose daughter died driving defective car pleads for NCT overhaul

A file photo of Paula Murphy at the scene of a crash which resulted in the death of her daughter Amanda O'Flaherty.

A bereaved mother whose daughter died while driving a defective car has launched a petition to change a key part of the National Car Test (NCT).

Paula Murphy, from Cork City, believes her daughter Amanda O’Flaherty would still be alive if her car, found to have defective shock absorbers after a fatal crash, had failed the test just months earlier.

Ms Murphy, who has single-handedly spearheaded a campaign to highlight what she believes are deficiencies in the NCT, began gathering signatures in Cork City Friday.

She hopes to present the signatures to Moyagh Murdock, the head of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees the NCT, to encourage her to change the test criteria for vehicle suspension systems and shock absorbers. “This is just the first step, and I know it will take time, but it’s about time that this issue is dealt with,” said Ms Murphy.

“Amanda’s car should have been red-flagged during her NCT. I want to ensure that from now on, cars get checked properly and that there are improvements to the NCT. I’m doing all this in the hope that I can save another person’s life.”

Amanda died in a crash near Cobh in Co Cork in 2012. It emerged at her inquest that gardaí identified serious defects in her jeep’s rear suspension which made it unroadworthy.

The suspension was leaking an excessive amount of oil which would have made the vehicle unstable before and during cornering. However, her car had passed its NCT just months earlier.

Experts say the defects could not have developed to the extent they did in the seven months between the NCT and the fatal crash, and that the problems should have been identified during the test. If the problems were picked up, they said her car should have failed the test, and never been allowed on the road.

Ms Murphy has been highlighting her daughter’s case for the last two years. Her campaign led to the potential NCT deficiencies being the focus of an RTÉ Prime Time show last month.

Experts told the show that some cars can pass the NCT even though their shock absorbers could have the same defects which were identified in Amanda’s car.

But the RSA has defended the NCT and said it stands over the criteria and limits it applies to this element of the test. Ms Murdock said the Irish NCT is “highly sophisticated and probably the most sophisticated in the member states involved in the road safety strategy”.

She also pointed out there is no consensus in Europe on how best to test suspension systems and that Ireland is one of only five EU states which carries out a balance test as well as a visual check on shock absorbers.


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