What should New Zealand do about the WOF?

By David Thomson on Sat, 27 Oct 2012

Vehicle safety has been on my mind of late, due to recent publicity on the proposed changes to the warrant of fitness regime.

The Motor Trade Association (MTA), using racing driver Greg Murphy as its main spokesman, has been running a high-profile campaign against the changes. It seems to me, however, the MTA campaign has been rather stronger on claims of the dire consequences that lie ahead if the current regime changes than on the actual evidence to back up those claims.

The Automobile Association (AA), on the other hand, has taken a different position, based more obviously on scrutiny of the underlying causes of crashes in recent years.

The AA has concluded vehicle faults contribute to about 2.5% of all fatal and injury crashes in New Zealand and to 0.4% of crashes in which the vehicle fault is the sole cause of the crash.

Additionally, the AA found tyre faults were the issue in more than half of the fatal crashes where there was a vehicle fault, and that in almost 40% of those crashes the vehicle concerned did not have a current warrant of fitness.

The AA has been directly critical of the big-budget campaign being run against any changes to the warrant of fitness regime, labelling claims changes will lead to more road deaths as misleading.

It seems the AA is in favour of less frequent warrant of fitness testing, at least for vehicles up to 12 years old, but an increased focus on enforcement aimed at keeping unwarranted vehicles off the road, along with better monitoring of tyre condition. The AA has provided an array of information on its website which may help anyone who is really interested to reach an informed position on this matter.

You can find it at www.aa.co.nz/about/safety-on-the-roads/safer-vehicles/vehicle-licensing-....

That information includes the results of a survey of AA members, in which an overwhelming majority preferred either an annual warrant or an annual warrant for cars up to 12 years old, and six-monthly after that, to the status quo.

The MTA meanwhile, has rather less information, but a clear position on its own website on the issue (www.handsoffthewof.co.nz). You can make your own views known by voting at the MTA site.

When I took a look on Labour Day, some 21,000 votes had been cast, of which two-thirds were against any change to current arrangements and one-third in favour.

Having reviewed all the evidence, I have made my views known to both the AA - where I was with the majority who favoured one of the two change options outlined above - and to the MTA, where I was with the minority who favour a change to current arrangements.

Both the AA and MTA will be making formal submissions to the Government on this review.

Members of the public are welcome to have their say as well, and can do so online at www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/Land/vehiclelicensingreform consultation.

The deadline for submissions is the end of this month, so if you are keen to have a say, you will need to do so this week.

David Thomson