WoF test shake up sparks fears

By Teuila Fuatai

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Lazy motorists who refuse to maintain their cars will put other drivers' lives at risk if vehicle safety checks become less frequent, a Wairarapa mechanic says.

Proposed changes reducing the frequency of Warrant of Fitness safety checks could save drivers millions of dollars, according to the Ministry of Transport. The options were revealed in a discussion document on New Zealand's vehicle licensing system.

Mechanic Dayle Brock of All Car and Commercial Centre in Masterton said relaxing inspection frequency put more unsafe cars on the road.

"We get customers who come in [for a WoF check] and their tyres are quite bad, but not bad enough to fail.

"We tell them to get new ones, but then they'll come back in six months with the same ones."

Mr Brock said about 30 per cent of customers did the bare minimum in terms of car safety.

"The high-end customers - no problem, and if it's serviced regularly as well, that's fine.

"But the budget customers are a bad idea because they just want to get away with everything."

The proposed options include four alternatives to streamline the Warrant of Fitness scheme and changes to the vehicle registration programme.

Currently, vehicles must be inspected every six months if older than six years. Newer vehicles are inspected annually.

At a cost of about $50 per inspection, Kiwis are forking out nearly $250 million in inspection fees each year.

Proposed changes include tougher testing standards, but less frequent inspections and the introduction of demerit points penalising those who do not comply with WoF safety standards. A further seven changes to vehicle registration are included in the document, plus new options for the Certificate of Fitness and transport licensing systems. The AA says the changes could bring New Zealand into line with the rest of the world.

"New Zealand is the only country in the world that requires most vehicles to undergo a safety inspection every six months," spokesman Mark Stockdale said.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said about $245 million was paid in WoF inspection fees by Kiwis each year.

"And the time spent getting a WoF is estimated as worth $100 million. But it is unclear whether this results in fewer crashes caused by vehicles."


HOW WE RATE

Average number of vehicle safety inspections over an eight-year period:

NZ: 13

NSW, Australia: 3

UK: 6

Germany: 3

Japan: 2B

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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