Editorial: Technology changes

In our fast-changing world, there will inevitably be times when it is tempting to hark back to the "good old days".

Confused by change and unconvinced by the need for it, it is only natural to dig out and don those rose-tinted spectacles and get all nostalgic about how things used to be.

Significant changes are about to catch up with two long-time facets of conventional Kiwi life. Routine twice-yearly warrant of fitness inspections for cars six years and older will end and be replaced by a new regime of checks. And the days of posties visiting home mailboxes every day but Sunday are under threat due to dwindling volumes of mail.

Both changes will spark some anxiety from those who like things the way they are, who see them as yet another example of a society on the decline from those better days of the past.

The question is, were things really better in the old days? When slippery milk bottles smashed on the pavement and when your copy of The Press was sodden in a puddle-filled driveway because all it had round it was a piece of string?

The new system for warrants, scheduled to come into force in July 2014 or before, makes good sense and should save the nation's motorists time and money.

New cars will no longer have to have an annual warrant, followed by six-monthly inspections once they are six-years-old. Instead, after an initial check on first being registered, they will not require any WOFs until they reach the age of three, after which they will be inspected annually.

Vehicles registered on or after January 1, 2000, will only need annual warrants, but those from before that date will still need six-monthly checks.

For many of us, the changes will cut in half the number of anxious waits and awkward conversations with busy mechanics each year at the testing station. New Zealand has one of the oldest fleets of private cars in the world, with an average age of 13.8 years, which means a large group of Kiwi drivers will benefit from the new assessments.

Older cars need more looking after to keep them safe and roadworthy, and, compared with 21st century vehicles, are much more technologically immature. So it is absolutely right that these cars - of which there are many - will continue having six-monthly checks.

Government research estimates the changes will save motorists and businesses nearly $160 million a year. Those most concerned about the new structure for warrants are, naturally, the garages and mechanics who benefit from failed warrants and subsequent car repair work.

The plan to cut home mail deliveries from six to three days a week is really just a reflection of the times. Like colour negative film, Betamax videotapes and pagers, the number of letters being written and posted is on the decline.

New technologies are leading to changes in methods and patterns of communication - what some would simply call "progress". Emails, texts and sites like Facebook provide instant communication that many think knocks the socks off the traditional two-day, or six-day, wait for letters from around the country or the other side of the world respectively.

Nobody is arguing it will not be a sad day when the red-and-yellow flash of the passing postie becomes an every-other day event. But nobody can resist or manage to turn back the changing tides and few would probably really want to.

The Press