Groups claiming that changes to our Warrant of Fitness (WoF) regime will lead to more road deaths are misleading the public, says the AA.
There is a big-budget campaign being run by commercial providers against the idea of any changes to the WoF and the AA is concerned that this campaign is not presenting the full facts to the public.
"Some of the opponents of change to the WoF system seem to be cherry-picking information and not mentioning the time and cost benefits for motorists from a revised testing scheme nor the changes we can make to improve vehicle safety," says AA spokesperson Mark Stockdale.
As part of the AA's analysis of the changes being proposed, we looked at the data on every fatal crash in New Zealand over five years from 2007-2011. We did this to understand the possible safety impacts of any changes.
The crash data showed that out of 1640 crashes, there were 89 (or 5.4%) where a vehicle fault or factor was found that may have contributed to the crash.
Of the vehicles in those 89 crashes, 39% did not have a current WoF and 52% had a tyre fault.
Analysis of overall NZ road crashes indicates that vehicle faults contribute to about 2.5% of all fatal and injury crashes and to 0.4% where the fault is the sole cause of the crash.
To put that in some context, the most common factors contributing to fatal crashes are alcohol or drugs (36%), a driver losing control (34%) and going too fast for the conditions (32%).
"Vehicle faults do play a part in a small number of road crashes but it's misleading to simply claim that changing the WoF frequency will lead to that number increasing," says Mr Stockdale.
"Nearly 40% of the vehicles with faults that were involved in fatal crashes didn't have a WoF anyway, so how frequently they are supposed to be getting one is not the issue.
"Worn tyres are another key factor in crashes but there are other ways to target this than solely through a WoF.
"Rather than having a regime that is testing the majority of motorists excessively we need to focus more on enforcement to get vehicles without WoFs off the road and investigate ways to better monitor tyre condition."
"In a survey of AA Members in September 2012, 70% supported changing to an annual WoF for vehicles up to 12 years old and the AA believes that this can be achieved without compromising New Zealand's road safety.
"An annual inspection - or even less frequent - works in all similar countries that we compare ourselves to for road safety statistics. For example most Australian states have no periodic testing at all except on a change of ownership"
The AA has published a range of independent data on its website related to the WoF changes being considered so the public can have a better understanding of the issues: