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MTA is one of many agencies and organisations providing input to the government’s new road safety strategy via five reference groups.

Putting Safety First

There’s strong support within the sector for the government to raise the standards for new and used vehicles entering New Zealand.

MTA is one of many agencies and organisations providing input to the government’s new road safety strategy via five reference groups. MTA was a member of the reference group looking specifically at vehicle safety, vehicle standards and certification.

Advocacy and Strategy Manager Greig Epps says, “Vehicle factors, mainly worn tyres, contributed to nine percent of fatal crashes in both 2016 and 2017, up from around five percent in 2015.”

With a 2018 unofficial road toll of 379, one more death than in 2017, MTA expects the number of crashes linked to vehicle faults to still be around nine percent of all fatalities.

There are about six million WoF inspections each year and in the last four years the failure rate has risen from 34 to 38 percent. Tyres, brakes, steering, and suspension are the most common reasons for a fail, and they are all important components for controlling a vehicle.

MTA is calling for research to be done to determine if there’s a link between rising WoF failures and the growth in fatal crashes linked to vehicle faults.

After four sessions to discuss the best ways to improve vehicle safety, the reference group agreed the government should raise standards through regulation - preferably targeting the entry of new and used imports to create a level playing field.

“We had some good pick-up on our proposal to prevent the re-registration of vehicles that have been written off here or overseas. We also made a presentation on ways the WoF regime could be updated to reflect technology used in new vehicles, especially safety features such as lane-keep and AEB, which the VIRM does not currently require AVIs to check,” says Greig.

MTA also triggered discussion on the growing difficulty general repairers have getting access to proprietary repair and servicing information. This sort of data will be vital to assessing the effectiveness of electronically controlled safety features.

The Transport Agency has already indicated that it is interested in reviewing the content of the VIRM as part of its current review of regulatory inspections.

“We look forward to seeing which of our ideas and proposals make it through to the draft policy which will be out for public consultation in April,” says Greig.

Priorities identified

In summary, the reference group suggested top priority be given to:

  • Preventing unsafe light vehicles from entering the fleet by banning one-and two-star vehicles OR raising standards.
  • Promote and adopt vehicle features that better protect pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users
  • Accelerate the removal of unsafe vehicles from the fleet
  • Bring in higher safety standards for heavy vehicles, including promoting retrofitting where appropriate.