Tougher checks on every car stopped
Next time you're stopped by the police, don't be surprised if the officer takes a "twirl" around your car.
Police are to begin checking every car they stop to make sure it is safe for the road - and that involves a five-point Twirl test: tyres, windscreen wipers and mirrors, indicators, rust and lights.
Checks will also be done for loose or damaged parts and warrant of fitness conditions. Any vehicles deemed dangerous as a result could be impounded.
It is more likely, however, that motorists will face big on-the-spot infringement fees, or fines. The penalty for a bald tyre, for instance, is $150.
From July 2012 to June 2013, Hutt City Council netted more than $31,000 after its parking wardens issued 210 tickets for bald or damaged tyres.
Other penalties include $150 for not wearing a seatbelt, $200 for not displaying a current warrant, and $200 for not displaying a current registration label.
In the latest issue of police magazine Ten One, national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths says the move is aimed at making motorists take more responsibility for the state of their vehicles.
"We stop more than 3.5 million vehicles a year. Most of these give us the perfect opportunity to make sure the driver and vehicle are fit for the road.
"The focus is on making cars safer, so our aim is educating drivers and getting vehicles fixed through compliance options. However, we also want staff to use pink and green stickers to get unsafe vehicles off the road if necessary."
The checks have been developed in partnership with the New Zealand Transport Agency, which has been running a vehicle safety campaign since late last year. The campaign is set to run for three years.
Last month, changes to warrant of fitness regulations were introduced, extending the time between vehicle checks for newer vehicles.
Owners of vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes that were registered between 2004 and 2008 require annual checks rather than six-monthly ones. From July 1, the change will be extended to vehicles registered since 2000.
The Motor Trade Association opposed the warrant changes and said it would take time before it was known what effect the move would have on road safety.
Spokesman Ian Stronach said it was good that police would now be undertaking vehicle checks, but how thorough they would be was uncertain.
Police might not have the time to complete every check, and would be unable to look at aspects such as steering, suspension, the exhaust and brakes.
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The Dominion Post