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LTSA warns motorists to check their vehicles

LTSA online
The Land Transport Safety Authority is warning motorists to do regular safety checks on their vehicles, following the release of provisional figures that indicate vehicle factors contributed to 44 deaths from 40 fatal crashes last year.

Land Transport Safety Director David Wright says it isn’t enough to obtain a warrant of fitness (WoF) or a certificate of fitness (CoF) and then forget about vehicle maintenance for the next six months or year.

“Every time you get into a vehicle you should be confident it is in good order. Warrant of fitness standard is the minimum that should be aimed for and legally a vehicle must be kept up to WoF standards at all times,” Mr Wright said today.

“Police carry out regular roadside checks, but more importantly the owners of vehicles need to know that taking short-cuts on vehicle safety can cost lives.”

Mr Wright warned that motorists could be fined up to $500 for each vehicle item below WoF standard, and up to $2,000 for operating an unsafe vehicle.

Every year vehicle factors contribute to around eight percent of all fatal crashes and four percent of injury crashes. Tyre faults, braking, steering and light problems are the main vehicle factors contributing to these crashes.

To ensure your vehicle constantly meets or exceeds WoF standards the LTSA recommends that you follow the maintenance schedules in your vehicle manual. In some instances your vehicle warranty may not be valid unless the schedule has been followed.

If you don’t have a vehicle manual to follow, there is still plenty you can do.

 Tyre checks are particularly important as tyres are cited in half of those fatal crashes where vehicle defects are a contributing factor. Tyre pressure and tread depth should be checked regularly.

 Vehicle owners should check their safety belts for fading, fraying, cuts or a lack of webbing. Wearing a safety belt is the easiest way to protect yourself from serious injury or death in the event of a crash. The buckle stalks should also be checked for signs of fraying of the wire cable where it joins the buckle.

 Vehicles should be checked for rust. Rust on the main structural parts of your vehicle can be dangerous and should be repaired immediately. Having rust removed early can prevent it from spreading and can save money.

 Regular inspection of the exhaust system is vital to protect you and others from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are going on a long trip, as well as the above checks get a qualified mechanic to service your vehicle. The mechanic should look for fluid leakage and check the steering and suspension, seatbelts, airbags and brakes. Ask the mechanic to test drive the vehicle to see if there are any other safety-related faults not picked up by the inspection.

“If you own an older vehicle, regular maintenance is even more important. It will not only help to extend the life of your vehicle, but could extend the life of your family, and other road users as well. It can save lives,” Mr Wright said.

For more information about vehicle safety check out LTSA’s web site: www.ltsa.govt.nz

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