Vehicle checks may save lives

Morgan and Jayne Verhoeven are urging drivers to get a safety check done on their cars by their current service provider before winter sets in.

Worn tyres have been linked to 32 fatal road crashes over the past three years, and the Motor Trade Association (MTA) has said that vehicle safety should be addressed as part of the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

Morgan and Jayne Verhoeven – owners of Automotive Solutions Cambridge, 4WD Solutions and Tyre & Wheel Solutions – agree, saying the situation has worsened since the warrant of fitness (WOF) rules were changed in 2014.

The new annual requirement for a warrant has given motorists a “false sense of security”, according to Jayne. “Our biggest worry is the young ones, who will have enough tread to pass a warrant but there won’t be enough tread on there for a year,” she explained. They don’t even think about their vehicle’s roadworthiness until it’s time for another WOF, by which time their tyres may be dangerously bald, separating or have steel belts exposed.

Figures from the MTA back up the Verhoevens’ concerns, showing that worn tyres have been linked to a growing number of crashes since the warrant of fitness system was changed in 2014 (up from 107 crashes in 2014 to 166 in 2017).

For as little as $25, drivers can get a safety check done on their car, which not only could save their life but may also prevent the need for more costly repairs down the track. And most automotive businesses in Cambridge offer the service, Jayne added.

Morgan said that what was intended to be a cost saving initiative for motorists, extending warrants out from six-monthly to yearly, has actually ended up costing them more.

“We are doing more repairs because of the domino effect of problems not being picked up earlier,” he explained. Jayne agreed, giving the example of a brake pad that may be worn and not picked up until serious damage has been done to the vehicle.

The MTA is now calling for a change to the rules around tyre tread depth, changing it to 3mm of depth, rather than wait until the minimum allowable depth of 1.5mm. Tyres with 1.5mm depth will most likely not last a whole year between warrants, so by changing the rules it could mean a reduction in worn tyre-related crashes.

The Verhoevens are joining the MTA in encouraging all drivers to check their cars every six months to make sure the brakes, tyres, lights, suspension and steering are all in top shape – particularly with the onset of winter. Last year, over half a million vehicles failed their warrant of fitness because their tyres were in poor condition.

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