Kiwis back current WoF system

By Alastair Sloane

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More than 60 per cent of New Zealand drivers fear that changes to vehicle licensing regulations will mean fewer Warrant of Fitness checks, says a Motor Industry Association survey.


It found that 630 of the 1000 drivers surveyed believed changing the frequency of WoF inspections would compromise road safety.


"We didn't see much appetite for a change to the WoF regime," said MTA spokesman Ian Stronach.


"Drivers clearly feel that the system we have now works, and see the WoF regime as having an important role to play."


The survey showed 98 per cent of drivers agreed that WoFs were a valuable safety check and an important part of road safety.


More than half (56 per cent) said they would not feel safe on the road if WoF inspections were to become less frequent. Around 67 per cent wanted the WoF system to be left as it is.


The Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport are looking at ways to make the annual vehicle licensing system - registrations, warrant of fitness/certificate of fitness - more efficient without compromising road safety.


Said Stronach: "Government needs to take into account public attitudes to the system currently in place to maintain and assure vehicle roadworthiness."


This year's MTA survey shows 67 per cent of drivers believe transport groups are placing the right amount of emphasis on vehicle safety. About 25 per cent believe not enough is being done.


A similar survey done 14 years ago - in 1998 - had 57 per cent believing that road safety rules were fine; 38 per cent said they were not.


Under the present regime vehicles under six years old must have a WoF inspection every 12 months; those over six must be checked every six months.


But this is expected to change under the NZTA and MoT review.


The need for a WoF on new cars is likely to be scrapped.


New cars would first be checked two years after being sold, followed by inspections at four and six years.


Thereafter they would need a yearly WoF. The present six-monthly WoF on cars over six years old may be extended to 12 months.


The average age of vehicles on New Zealand roads is more than 13, old by developed-world standards. It is expected to stay at this level until at least 2020.


The most common year of manufacture of light vehicles on our roads is 1997 - when many vehicles had only modest levels of safety features.


New Zealand has a more frequent inspection regime than anywhere else, says the MTA.


But the increasing age and composition of our national fleet, quality of our roads, and the often casual attitudes to vehicle servicing and safety checks, make a WoF a vital component in road safety strategy.


Stronach said: "It would be a tragedy if all the progress made over recent years in terms of providing New Zealanders with a safer driving environment were put at risk for the sake of saving $45 on one less WoF inspection a year.

- Hamilton News

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