Thursday, 27 November 1980
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. L. Cosgrave: asked the Minister for the Environment if he is aware of the number of cars on the road which are in a state of disrepair, thereby involving risk to drivers and road users; the action it is proposed to take to ensure regular checks on the condition of vehicles; and if it is proposed to enforce relevant regulations under the Road Traffic Act.
I am aware that some cars are used on the roads in a defective condition. It is of course a matter of concern that any vehicle having dangerous defects should be so used. At present, and in common with other EEC member states, arrangements are being made here for the introduction of a harmonised system of compulsory roadworthiness testing for certain categories of vehicles, such as large public service and commercial vehicles, taxis, ambulances. In accordance with an EEC directive this scheme will be operational not later than 1 January 1983. When the arrangements have been completed I will have a public announcement made.
It is my intention to have compulsory testing extended to private cars as soon as may be practical, but at this stage priority is being given to arrangements for the testing of the classes of vehicles covered by the EEC directive. In the meantime regulations are in force under the Road Traffic Acts providing that every vehicle used in a public place should be so maintained and used that no danger is likely to be caused to any person. It is in everyone's interest that these requirements be observed.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): Is the Minister of State aware that because of the condition of the roads motor vehicles are deteriorating rapidly? Further, does the Minister think it reasonable that car owners should have to bear the cost of repairing the cars when the damage is caused because of the neglect of the Department to repair the roads?
Mr. Fahey: I do not agree that the roads are in such a bad condition that they are causing damage to cars. The responsibility is on the car owner to see that the car is in good order in the public interest. No excuse will take that responsibility from him.
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): May I suggest to the Minister of State that he must be spending more time  than usual reading newspapers when he is travelling in his car? The Mercedes must be better insulated than the car I am driving.
Mr. Tully: Perhaps if the Minister of State had to pay the cost of repairs it would bring the matter to his notice more forcibly. Does the Minister of State not know that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of cars on the roads that are in an unroadworthy condition because of the high cost of repairs and because the roads are so bad? Damage is caused to cars every day because of potholes in the roads. Will the Minister of State please do something about the matter?
Mr. Fahey: I am aware that there are cars on the roads that are in a defective condition. The Garda Authorities have the power to deal with such matters. I should like that such cars were not on the roads but unfortunately they are there. I am not certain of the number of such cars. The EEC directive covers large public service vehicles, taxis and ambulances and we are directing our attention to those vehicles.
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