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Changes to WoF laws will cause more deaths on NZ roads

3 December 2012

Automotive Solutions says changes to WoF laws will cause more deaths on NZ roads

One of New Zealand’s largest groups of independent, non-franchised vehicle repairers says the government’s proposed vehicle licensing reform will lead to more deaths on New Zealand roads.

Automotive Solutions, a network of almost 40 independent vehicle repairer owners that operate under a national brand, say they strongly oppose the proposed reform which include changes to the current warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness system.

“Any reform to existing policies and legislation should be to improve current systems, but these proposals appear to be more about saving time and money than saving lives, which should be the priority aim of vehicle testing,” said Automotive Solutions’ chairperson, Phil Smith, owner of Pukekohe’s Waiaua Pa Automotive Solutions.

Mr Smith says the government’s unflattering comparison between higher frequencies of vehicle inspections for New Zealand’s light vehicle fleet with most Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) countries, doesn’t look at the bigger picture.

“New Zealand has some of the most dangerous and unsafe roads in the world. We’re consistently above the OECD average for annual road deaths. We don’t manufacture any cars here – they’re all imported. We have one of the oldest light vehicle fleets in the developed world. We don’t have a good public transport system and we have one of the highest rates of vehicle ownership in the world. And we have a higher legal blood alcohol limit for fully licensed drivers than most International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) countries.”

“It’s a cocktail of factors that make it dangerous to drive a vehicle here. One thing we can control is regulation of licensing and vehicle inspections, so it makes no sense from a logistical or safety standpoint to put even more lives at risk by lowering the frequency of those safety inspections.”

Currently most private vehicles up to six years old are inspected annually and six-monthly after that. For commercial vehicles, such as trucks, buses and taxis, inspections are usually every six months.

“If the government’s motivation is to save vehicle owners money perhaps they could introduce a warrant subsidy system, or changes to the vehicle registration fee schedule so that fees reflect distances travelled.”

Mr Smith says the reform background suggests vehicle owners may be relying too much on having a WoF or CoF instead of keeping their vehicles in a safe condition on an ongoing basis, and that advertising campaigns could be used to teach owners how to keep their vehicles safe between inspections.

However, Automotive Solutions says this places too much onus on the vehicle owner and “treads on precarious ground”.

“While it’s good for a vehicle owner to be able to recognise defective tyres, windscreens and lights, the reality is that most vehicle owners don’t have the time or the inclination to correct these issues themselves. The WoF is the only contact most owners have with their vehicle’s safety, and it’s valid, reliable, and reduces the risk factors of driving on our roads,” said Mr Smith.

Automotive Solutions Limited is a network of almost 40 professional automotive repairers around New Zealand, all sharing the same national brand and dedicated to excellent standards of workmanship and service.

ENDS

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