Any changes to the current warrant of fitness (WoF) regime need to be carefully considered after a survey of drivers found the majority expressing some degree of concern that there could be a reduction in the number of WoF checks carried out.
A recent telephone survey of 1,000 drivers, completed by the Motor Trade Association (MTA), showed that 63 percent were concerned to some degree about the possibility of fewer WoF inspections as a result of the current Vehicle Licensing Reform process.
The reform is a joint NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport review of annual vehicle licensing (commonly known as registration), warrant of fitness/certificate of fitness and the transport services licensing systems. Its purpose is to consider opportunities to make each of the systems simpler and more efficient, without compromising safety.
The telephone survey, which replicates research carried out by MTA in 1998, shows drivers increasingly feel there is about the right amount of emphasis placed on vehicle safety in general these days; 67 percent in 2012 compared to 57 percent in 1998. Conversely, the number feeling there is not enough emphasis fell to just 25 percent in 2012 compared to 38 percent in 1998.
MTA spokesman Ian Stronach says “Government needs to take into account public attitudes to the system currently in place to maintain and assure vehicle roadworthiness. We didn’t see much appetite for a change to the WoF regime. 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 percent of drivers agreed that WoFs are a valuable safety check, and an important part of road safety. More than half (56 percent) agreed that they would not feel safe on the road if WoF inspections were to become less frequent, emphasising the role that the current system plays in reassuring motorists.
New Zealand’s current vehicle inspection regime means vehicles less than six years old are required to undergo a WoF inspection every 12 months, with vehicles older than this being inspected every six months. The survey also showed there was clear support (67 percent) for retaining the frequency of WoFs as is.
While New Zealand has a more frequent inspection regime than anywhere else, the increasing age and composition of our national fleet, quality of our roads and often casual attitudes to vehicle servicing and safety checks make a WoF a vital component in an effective road safety strategy. It would be a tragedy if all the progress made over recent years in terms of providing New Zealanders with a safer driving environment was put at risk for the sake of saving $45 on one less WoF inspection a year.