Government’s announcement today that its preferred option for future WoF frequency will require no safety checks for a vehicle’s first three years, annual checks for those between three and 13 years old, and six-monthly checks after that is a double blow for motorists, says Motor Trade Association (MTA).
Under the proposal put forward by Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges earlier today, motorists will only require six-monthly checks for vehicles registered after 1 January 2000; meaning that over time, the majority of the fleet will move to 12-monthly WoF inspections.
While providing the appearance of savings, the changes may in fact increase costs and the risks to motorists, while at the same time lead to the loss of more than 2,000 jobs from within the automotive industry.
“Vehicle Licensing Reform (VLR) provided New Zealand with a unique opportunity to bring meaningful change to a range of key elements of the wider licensing system. The opportunity for any substantial changes to the licensing system has been deferred – instead we have a piecemeal deconstruction of the vehicle inspection regime that has served and protected motorists well for many years,” says MTA Spokesperson Ian Stronach.
With inspections for vehicles 13 years and newer, to be required every 12 months, many vehicles will now be travelling twice the distance and going twice as long before undergoing the minimum safety check. Many drivers rely on this as their primary safety and operational assurance. In an automotive environment like ours, that is too long and too far.
Minor repairs will turn into major work, negating any theoretical savings. New Zealand’s fleet is old and ageing rapidly, but Government’s preferred option provides little real confidence that enforcement and educational capability will be properly increased to manage the risks. Says Stronach, “Surely the onus must be on improving safety levels, not eroding them.
Even recently released research1 co-sponsored by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) casts doubt on the likely outcome and cost of the changes being proposed; if the so called experts aren’t sure of what might happen, why are we pushing ahead?"
At a time when Government is looking for ways to reduce costs to motorists it has been quite prepared to increase fuel taxes and advise that they will continue to rise in the coming years.
It seems that it’s quite prepared to reduce costs for motorists as long as it doesn’t affect Government income. Government could have streamlined our cumbersome annual licensing process, made individual motorists more accountable for the risks they represent and improved the integrity of the existing inspection process.
Instead they are selling this reform to New Zealanders on the back of the potential that they can save themselves around $50 a year. Having to carry out fewer inspections will mean some providers will simply opt out of the business, meaning some motorists will have to travel further and take more time to have an inspection carried out.
It will also only add to the jobless total, while pushing more skilled people out of the industry.
Stronach adds “The Government seems obsessed with the principle that, because New Zealand’s inspection regime is unique, it needs to be changed. That’s a very narrow view which they don’t apply consistently. Ultimately, this decision sells all New Zealanders short.”