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19 May 2011

More Random Police Vehicle Inspections

Random breath tests (RBT’s) have frightened people into thinking twice about drinking and driving because of the high likelihood of being caught.

VACC has asked Victoria Police to apply the same principal and introduce more random vehicle tests. Recently, Deputy Commissioner, Kieran Walshe, launched the Winter Driving Campaign. During the month of June, motorists in Victoria can expect to be pulled over by Police and have their vehicle subjected to a safety inspection, to ensure the vehicle is fit for the road and weather conditions.

But why have this just in June? In our opinion, random vehicle inspections by Victoria Police should be just as common as RBT’s. Just like Channel 9’s program on a Thursday night, it would make fascinating television. You can just see it now. Picture a family driving home from the footy, when they see a line of police mechanics pulling cars over to inspect them. The wife asks her husband “you did get the car serviced didn’t you, because there was that funny vibrating noise and did you replace the front light?” The husband, shifts nervously in his seat, and replies “I was going to, but I’ve just been so busy at work”.

The work we’ve done in the area of vehicle safety suggests there are more unsafe vehicles on our roads than you would imagine. One in three of the vehicles tested by VACC participating repairers so far this year, had a defect making many unsafe.

We can say this, because VACC is one of the few organisations to produce vehicle safety statistics. As part of our ongoing Vehicle Safety Campaign, participating VACC members collect vehicle safety data through our Five Point Safety Check.

The Five Point Safety Check is voluntary and free and is conducted when a vehicle is serviced. Repairers inspect the five major safety features of a vehicle – tyres, brakes, lights, steering and restraints. If anything is found to be at fault, the repairer fills in a form; gives one copy to us to process and one copy to the vehicle owner.

We started this initiative because we have been unable to convince Government to introduce a compulsory system of vehicle checks. So we introduced our own.

The Five Point Safety Check is about vehicle safety, but it is also about communication and education. When repairers identify a fault, they discuss it with the vehicle owner in a clear and transparent way. More often than not, on receiving this information, the motorist sanctions the repairs.

Victoria Police’s Winter Driving campaign, starting on June 1 is a good thing. Mr Washe has sent out a message to vehicle owners that it is they who are responsible for the condition of the vehicle they drive.

VACC’s Vehicle Safety message and Victoria Police’s Winter Driving program are consistent and supportive. If the Police campaign has an impact, as I am sure it will, then more vehicles will ultimately be safer and more roadworthy.

VACC takes this opportunity to do four things.

We commend and support this Police initiative;
We urge the Victorian Government to reconsider compulsory vehicle testing;
If the Government does not do this, then we ask, at the very least, it supports our Five Point Safety Check;
And we ask Government to give the Police resources to do year-round random vehicle testing.

And before anyone says, here’s VACC, again, just trying to scare customers into the arms of their members, here’s the thing…VACC does not apologies for alerting motorists to the importance of vehicle safety. Our members are performing a valuable service to the community because they are not the ones driving these death-traps on the roads – they are the ones trying to repair them.

In short, too many motorists are driving too many unsafe vehicles. Victoria Police’s Winter Driving campaign is not about trying to serve more ‘canaries’; it is not about trying to inconvenience motorists and delay journeys and it is not about trying to drive more customers to VACC repairers.

It is about reducing risks on our roads; and in short, it is about saving lives.


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