Shelley Stockman: For safety's sake, get your car a warrant every 6 months

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As a woman driver, I personally will still get my car checked every six months. Photo / APN
As a woman driver, I personally will still get my car checked every six months. Photo / APN

I am the female director of a mechanical workshop and I write with my concerns about the proposed changes to warrant of fitness testing, as a woman and a mother.

First, I take huge issue with the Government line that this is going to save motorists money. As a woman driver, I personally will still get my car checked every six months.

My reason is that as a working mother I have no desire to be responsible for the roadworthiness of my car. I want a licensed person to tell me whether my car is safe for my family and me.

As a director of a company that has 20 cars on the road, I unfortunately have seen huge increases in insurance costs in the past two years since events in Christchurch.

Anything that increases risk factors - which making Kiwis responsible for their own cars' roadworthiness will do - will increase insurance costs.

Will my insurance be invalid if my brake lights aren't going or I have a bald tyre?

Where does that leave me in terms of my personal liability for the other car if I am in a collision?

I am finding, as the person who completes our insurance claims, that the insurance companies are doing their level best to reduce payouts.

The yearly inspection proposal is a more invasive inspection that at present, more akin to a service. In the UK this costs my mother-in-law £70 ($138). So while not as regular, it costs nearly four times what a six-monthly warrant costs.

I would invite all MPs to spend a day in a workshop, looking at the country's ageing fleet of imported cars.

These cars have in the most instances been imported from countries that have much higher humidity levels than New Zealand, and as a consequence they don't age well. Brake hoses perish faster, anything rubber or plastic breaks down faster.

We have 280,000 cars on the road now without warrants. What will this be if a yearly test is introduced?

We have finally, with driver training and education and effective roadworthy testing, been enjoying reduced road fatality numbers. I am floored that anyone would think it right to mess with that.

I look at comparisons that people are making with Australia.

We as a family spend a lot of time on the roads in Australia, and a constant comment is how many blown tyres you see on the sides of the motorways there.

There are several areas that need attention in New Zealand.

One is making third party insurance a compulsory component of car registration. We have clients coming in regularly who have been hit by uninsured drivers, who are incredibly hard to track down.

Another is testing more regularly the huge trucks on our roads, which run up huge mileages every year.

We are all aware of the graphic consequences of these vehicles failing to be roadworthy.

The state of Kiwi roads, while improving in some areas, still has a long way to go as well.

The saying that if it's working well, don't mess with it, has never been more appropriate than in this instance.

Shelley Stockman is a director of Paul Stockman Motors.

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