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Specific Programme Of Assistance Needed To Meet Costs Of Vehicle Repairs And Save Lives

MTA is calling for the Government to establish a specific programme of assistance to meet vehicle inspection and repair costs and save lives. This comes on the back of news that Ministry of Social Development (MSD) payments to help people on benefits and low incomes with car repairs have tripled in the past six years.

MTA Advocacy & Strategy Manager Greig Epps said, “At any given time, around 400,000 vehicles might be unwarranted on New Zealand roads. These are vehicles that are actively registered but have no record of a recent WoF. This is a significant vehicle safety risk to the lives of the people driving these vehicles, their passengers, and other road users.

“We believe financial hardship is a significant factor in the decision to present a vehicle for WoF testing and that this needs to be addressed with a specific programme of support through the Ministry of Social Development for vehicle repairs.”

MTA research completed in 2020 into WoF perceptions found that New Zealanders with incomes of $20,000 or less are less likely to regularly service their cars and concluded this was due to financial constraints rather than a lack of willingness.

MTA estimates that a scheme of this nature could cost approximately $85 million and would save 50 lives a year. In their 2020 Briefing to the Incoming Minister, the Ministry of Transport states that the average social cost per road fatality in 2019 is $4.56 million.

“Support of this nature for low-income families would quickly pay for itself, maintain vehicle safety and save lives,” said Epps.

Official figures, obtained by National, show that in the year to March, MSD spent $33.6 million helping people pay for car repairs with almost 50,000 grants, loans and advances. In 2016, that figure was $11m, for 22,500 payments.

Statistics provided by the Ministry of Transport show that one in ten fatal crashes involve a vehicle factor. The percentage of fatal crashes where the vehicle has been a contributing factor has increased from 5% in 2013 to 11% in each of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

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