Move to annual WoFs will lead to more road deaths - motoring writer
"A car's build quality is a lot better these days. They do not rust as quickly and technology has greatly improved. A warrant every six months just doesn't make sense any more."Featured comment
A move away from six-monthly warrant of fitness checks on vehicles will save motorists, business and police a combined $159 million a year, Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today.
The key changes to the WoF system from July next year are:
- An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once vehicles are three years old
- Annual inspections for vehicles three years and older and first registered on or after 1 January 2000
- Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000
- Information and education to increase people’s awareness of regular vehicle maintenance
- Extra police enforcement activities.
Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years. This includes savings in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WoF.
Changes will result in more road deaths - motoring editor
The changes will result in more road deaths, says Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website dogandlemon.com.
“Despite what people have been conned into believing, the current six-monthly WoF check is a major lifesaver," Mr Matthew-Wilson says.
To dispense with this system will inevitably result in more deaths and injuries."
Mr Matthew-Wilson dismisses government claims that few accidents are caused by vehicle defects and that the six-monthly WOF is therefore an unnecessary expense:
“When the police investigate accidents, then tend to blame driver behavior. Therefore, they often miss vital factors that might have prevented the accident occurring.”
“Take a typical situation where a child runs out in front of your car. Whether or not that child gets killed may well depend on the state of your vehicle’s brakes and shock absorbers.”
Tests by the German vehicle inspection agency TUV found that, at 50 km/h, a vehicle with one worn shock absorber stops two metres slower than a car with all four shock absorbers working properly.
Brakes and shock absorbers are currently checked every six months on most vehicles. That time will double when the WoFs are moved to 12 months.
Australian vehicle accident expert Chris Coxon, who co-founded Australia’s ANCAP crash test program, says:
“The New Zealand government scientists appear to have deliberately excluded research that didn’t support the government position.”
Mr Matthew-Wilson adds that the government’s WoF changes have been very deceptively packaged.
“The government has done a brilliant job of presenting the changes to the vehicle licensing system as a measure to save ordinary motorists time and money. Actually, the average motorist will save very little and may lose a lot.”
AA supports changes
The Automobile Association says the changes need to be seen in perspective.
In an editorial in support of the changes, AA principal advisor Mark Stockdale writes, "With our twice-yearly WoF, motorists are being burdened with higher costs than our counterparts in other countries, with no obvious reduction in vehicle fault- related crashes. In fatal crashes involving vehicle faults, 40% didn't even have a current WoF."
Most vehicles in New Zealand are tested every 6000km. In Britain they're tested every 19,000km, and in Germany vehicles travel about 32,000km between inspections, Mr Stockdale says.
Police say extra WoF enforcement action would mean money taken from other areas.