A number of road crashes in recent months have involved vehicles deemed not roadworthy, or lacking current Warrants of Fitness (WoF). In some cases, these crashed vehicles have not been checked for basic safety equipment in years.
From July, about 1.2 million cars previously subject to a six-monthly WoF inspection now have an annual inspection schedule. With this, the onus falls squarely on owners and drivers to regularly check their vehicles - some already 14 years old - are safe to be on the road.
"NZ Transport Agency's TWIRL* campaign is a solid start, but, really, this is about personal responsibility, on the part of the vehicle owners. Checking your vehicle needs to become a regular part of your routine; driving safely is about more than just making the right choices behind the wheel," MTA spokesperson Hamish Stuart says.
While some of the vehicles involved in recent crashes have not had a current WoF, many owners and drivers still make the mistake of assuming that a current WoF automatically means their vehicle is safe and roadworthy.
"It's important to remember that a WoF is an inspection at a point in time, and, from July the rules governing a cars WoF will change. This means for cars first registered on the roads after January 1 2000, a WoF is once per year. Some of these vehicles are already 14 years old, and have clocked up several hundreds of thousands of kilometres' travel; they're not new cars. Risks will increase if owners aren't vigilant."
"It's not only older, higher mileage vehicles that pose a risk. Irrespective of the age of a vehicle, the modern automobile needs regular maintenance and checking. Even on relatively new models, parts wear out; brakes and tyres need particular attention," Stuart says.
Developing a routine to ensure your vehicle is safe is straightforward, and there are plenty of places to guide you; NZTA's TWIRL check is a good place to start. If you are unsure about what to do, or have any concerns about any safety aspects of your vehicle, take it to an expert.
*TWIRL is NZTA's check for Tyres, Windscreen, Wipers and Mirrors, Indicators, Rust and Lights.