In late December 2014, the Minister for Transport announced a change in legislation, introducing penalty points and a fixed charge for driving a vehicle without a valid roadworthiness certificate. In addition to the announcement of the penalty points, Garda Síochána (Police) vehicles were equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Systems to actively scan vehicles for those with out-of-date roadworthiness certificates.
This announcement led to huge demand being placed on the vehicle inspection service provided by Applus+ Car Testing Service, the sole provider of the National Car Test (NCT) in Ireland. When the announcement was made, it was estimated that there were 200,000 customers driving vehicles without a valid roadworthiness certificate. Whilst the majority of vehicle owners in Ireland are law abiding, those who are not place a big strain on the system. In order to cope with this unprecedented level of demand, Ireland phased in a number of service changes. These included voluntary early testing (encouraging vehicle owners to present their vehicles early for inspection); 24-hour testing in a number of test centres building an additional 7 test lanes, bringing the total number of test lanes to over 100; and a massive recruitment drive to employ over 100 additional staff.
The introduction of 24-hour testing by Applus+ Car Testing Service was welcomed by the public, with self-employed customers, shift workers, taxi drivers and the motor trade making full use of the night-time appointments. This was the first time in the history of Ireland’s vehicle inspection programme that night-time testing had been made available.
2015 ended as the busiest year on record for the Applus+ Car Testing Service, which has been in operation since 2000, with more than 2.2 million vehicles inspected. They also saw over half of their customers using the online facility to book and prepay for their inspection, answered over 2.2 million calls to customers and experienced over 4 million hits to their website.