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Heavy vehicle safety shakeup – is it worth the risk?

Wellington, Monday 7 January 2013

Heavy vehicle safety shakeup – is it worth the risk?

Proposed changes to truck inspections won’t deliver the promised benefits says Vehicle Testing New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Walsh.

The Government is expected to announce wide-reaching changes to Certificates of Fitness (CoF) which VTNZ says are likely to shift costs and could see safety eroded instead of improved.

“We expect CoF inspections to go the same way as Warrants of Fitness for cars which will remove one of the main safeguards of the current system – independent safety inspections.

“Inspectors currently are prohibited from carrying out repairs, which helps protect standards from being compromised by commercial pressures – changing that will have a huge audit and compliance cost that hasn’t been taken into account,” says Mr Walsh.

“We know only too well what happens without proper audit and compliance in self-regulated industries – ask anyone with a leaky home!

“Some Kiwi truckies are clocking up to 300,000 kilometres in their rigs every year – too far to go without making sure the vehicle is in top shape.”

Mr Walsh says the changes are also likely to see a number of inspection sites closed and consolidated which means people will have to travel further and wait longer to get a heavy vehicle inspected.

“It’s easy to dismiss our comments as self-interest or even scaremongering, but VTNZ is appointed by the NZ Transport Agency to provide a nationwide service that ensures trucks are safe. Even the Road Transport Forum agrees that inspections must remain independent – and that most of its members don’t want to see any change at all.”

VTNZ carries out about 230,000 truck and trailer inspections each year – 86% of all heavy vehicle safety inspections.

“Commercial vehicle inspections are a lot tougher than a car WoF and cover structural elements, towing connections and certification. Brakes are also tested under loads that simulate driving conditions.

“These big, heavy rigs can do far more damage to the occupants or others on the road if the steering or brakes fail, than a regular family car,” says Mr Walsh. “They’re often heavier, or are hauling significant weight that can be deadly in a sudden stop.”

ENDS

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