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New car industry supports lap / diagonal belts

Media Release
20 February 2006

New car industry in total support of lap / diagonal belts in all seat positions

The new car industry has the total support of all its members with respect to the fitment of lap / diagonal seat belts in all seating positions.

In August 2004, when the industry set up an agreement to voluntarily mandate this feature in the absence of any legislative requirement, the compliance rate was approximately 90%. It is now around 95%.

Although most marques sold in New Zealand are already 100% compliant, one of the issues preventing total compliance is the fact that a small number of new car distributors source certain models which are based on the Japanese Domestic specification, and the fitment of lap / diagonal belts in all seat positions doesn’t become law in Japan until 2009.

Seat belt systems are an integral part of the design of the body structure at an early stage, so a three to four year lead time is invariably required to incorporate this feature.

“The new car industry is very conscious of the need to continue moving ahead of New Zealand’s outdated vehicle safety laws,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association. “What doesn’t help the cause is the mass media presenting eccentric amateurs as experts in vehicle safety engineering. Seatbelt systems, their anchorage points and the surrounding body reinforcement are not the sorts of things that can be retrospectively fitted to an existing vehicle, and to suggest that this can be done for $250 or so is completely irresponsible. Only original factory fitment is acceptable for such crucial safety systems.”

“Once again,” said Mr. Kerr, “the whole focus of this issue is being directed at the new vehicle industry. “When we’re already 95% compliant and are advancing the timetable for 100% compliance in the absence of any legislation compelling us to do so, there are thousands of used imports pouring across the wharves every month with dangerous lap belts in the rear. Based on the current profile of used imports it will be at least 2017 before we get close to 100% fitment for all vehicles added to the fleet. Is this what the politicians want? Again the majority of New Zealanders are missing out on this safety benefit because used importers are concentrating on older and older vehicles.” Mr Kerr concluded “It’s up to Land Transport New Zealand to come up with a definitive rule and timetable to apply to all first registrations.”


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