Matt Greenop: Let's focus on safety

Changes are looming for the Warrant of Fitness system.  Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
Changes are looming for the Warrant of Fitness system. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

The average age of a car on Kiwi roads is more than 13 years. We've known for a while there's a lot of rubbish on the roads, and something needs to be done about it.

Changes are looming to our warrant of fitness system - with the Government set to make a decision in the next fortnight. To most Kiwis, WoF time is the twice-yearly safety check. Many have no idea what's going on with their cars - balding tyres, stuffed brakes, blown-out shocks can all go unnoticed until clipboard guy points it out and refuses the little WoF sticker.

As vehicles age, wear and tear gets more extreme and problems can appear more quickly.

The motor industry has railed against WoF change, with our fleet age being one major area of concern that's been noted.

In an ideal world, it'd be great if we all drove safe, new cars - but that's unlikely to happen, and the best we can do is look after what we've got.

The advances in safety tech over the past decade have been significant, backed up by fresh numbers released by America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week. A comprehensive study said more than 2200 lives were saved in the United States in three years. How was this done? Not through grisly ads about speeding or by cranking up demerits or fines, but by making electronic stability control compulsory on new cars.

Ballsy legislation like this does make a difference, and while it could mean a few extra pesos on the pricetag, the end goal here is a lower bodycount.

We need to go further than just adopting rules that have been introduced in other countries, and start driving some of this change ourselves. Rather than clapping politely when cars get through crash tests with five-star ratings, we should be ensuring that most of the cars we sell are that safe.

As old as our fleet may be getting, there is hope - the car industry has picked up hugely this year, and November new-car sales were the best they've been since 2007. This could be because black financial clouds are starting to clear, or perhaps the many deals with extended warranties, finance and service offers make buying new over secondhand more attractive.

- NZ Herald

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