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New roadside checks focused on safety, not fines

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Police and the NZ Transport Agency are asking drivers to take a more active role in checking the safety of their vehicles, with Police roadside compliance checks rolling out this month to support a public education campaign which kicked off in December.

The Police TWIRL (Tyres, Windscreen, Indicators, Rust and Lights) checks are part of the broader Check your car vehicle safety campaign promoting awareness of vehicle safety and encouraging vehicle owners to take a much more active role in keeping their vehicles safe.

"The focus of the campaign is on encouraging motorists to make sure their vehicles are roadworthy at all times, not just at the one point in time when their warrant or certificate of fitness is issued," says, Superintendent Carey Griffiths, National Manager Road Policing.

"In keeping with the objectives of the campaign, Police are focused on encouraging motorists to make sure their vehicles comply with basic safety requirements – not on issuing multitudes of infringements that will hinder people from making necessary repairs. We'd far rather see money spent on fixing defects that make vehicles safer, not on fines," Mr Griffiths says.

"That's why we will be taking a common sense, educative approach as the new requirements come into force, with officers exercising their discretion based on the circumstances.”

However, Mr Griffiths says those caught deliberately or repeatedly driving an unsafe vehicle, or operating a vehicle with significant safety defects, can expect action to be taken. "Where we find significant vehicle defects or safety concerns, we will be asking our staff to use pink and green stickers to get these vehicles off the road and ticket the drivers if appropriate.

"It's also important to stress that the 'safe driver – safe vehicle' checks aren’t a full warrant of fitness check – they are a roadside check to assess vehicle safety, make sure the driver is appropriately licensed, and conduct a breath alcohol test. The five-point vehicle check can be carried out in a couple of minutes, so should mean little disruption to motorists," Mr Griffiths says.

"Police already carry out vehicle compliance checks as part of its road safety activities, and the 'safe vehicle - safer driver' approach is simply an extension of this work, which will apply a more thorough and consistent approach across the country."

NZTA Road Safety Director Ernst Zollner said the agency launched the public awareness campaign late last year to encourage drivers to keep vehicles in a roadworthy condition and to seek expert advice if they are concerned about anything.

“Vehicle owners are ultimately (and legally) responsible for the safety of their vehicle all year round – not just on the day of the WoF inspection. It doesn’t take long to give your car a quick safety check, and it could save your life”.

Information on things to look for can be found here(external link).

The focus of the campaign is on encouraging people to check certain higher safety-risk vehicle parts such as lights, tyres and brakes. It will also focus on things that can be easily checked by vehicle owners but with the advice to go to a garage for an expert check.

The campaign will run for three years through a mix of media such as publications, radio, online and through existing Transport Agency communication channels. This also includes having information at places where car maintenance is relevant eg, petrol stations. More information on the campaign is here(external link)

Find the latest transport news, information, and advice on our website: www.nzta.govt.nz(external link)

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