Editorial: Warrant plan will increase road risk

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This National Government has left me confused.

As it settles into its second term in power, it has built up a respectable track record of tackling the costly issue of road safety.

It has made it tougher for youth drivers, drink drivers and motorcyclists. It has introduced Interlock devices for convicted drink drivers.

These are sensible changes, although not enough for my liking.

But then it threatens to undo some of this good by proposing to relax the rules around warrants of fitness.

This story swirled around yesterday, but the versions I read were a bit short on detail.

In today's edition, on the front page, we spell out what the Government is wanting public feedback on and I don't agree with most of it.

There are four options - annual inspections for vehicles up to 12 years old; first inspection at three years and annual ones afterwards; inspections based on distance travelled; and inspections only when a vehicle is sold or police issue an order.

At first glance, these options sound tempting.

It is proposed that inspections be tougher and penalties for offenders tougher.

Each option has a significant collective annual saving for motorists, totalling tens of millions of dollars and up to $275 million in the case of inspections only upon sale or police order.

This is a lot of money that we motorists have to pay each year.

The current system involving six-monthly inspections for vehicles older than six years can be a hassle. And it is definitely too costly at about $50 per inspection.

But there is a potentially dangerous and costly downside to this proposal.

Each option carries an increased estimated cost in crashes - between $3 million and $90 million a year.

I cannot understand why any government would consider changes that would increase the cost of crashes and potentially put people at risk.

It simply does not wash with everything else that has been done to make our roads safer.

Mechanics spoken to by this newspaper also oppose the changes.

I agree with Mount Maunganui woman Desiree George, whose photo and opinion appear with our front-page story.

I too want to know that the car I drive and transport my family in is safe.

I most certainly do not want 11-year-old vehicles on the road which have only annual inspections.

The only parts of the proposed change I agree with are making inspections tougher and penalties for offenders tougher. The Government should do this anyway.

But increasing the time between inspections is madness.

The idea should be shelved.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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