© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Vehicle maintenance in the drivers license test?

Finlay Dunseath
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A number of MTA statistics show that the maintenance of our nation's vehicle fleet is on a concerning decline.

With the WOF failure rate sitting at 41% in 2019 and a significant jump in 2018 of the number of fatal crashes relating to vehicle factors, the question is what can be done to address this trend?

Motor Trade Association Advocacy and Strategy Manager, Grieg Epps, believes introducing a vehicle maintenance component to license tests is the answer. 

The MTA's proposal is to incorporate a brief module into the theory section of the test  on basic vehicle maintenance. Skills would include how to check a vehicle's tyres, water and oil levels, and knowing what problems to look out for with brakes.

"We want people to be going to our members and getting their cars looked after properly but you know we don’t go to the doctor all the time. You self manage and you figure out when you’ve got a bit of a niggle. We’re just worried that people don’t know what those niggles are for their cars anymore," says Epps.

Epps explains New Zealand's culture of DIY car maintenance isn't as prominent as it used to be and with new cars becoming more complex, something needs to be done to better inform vehicle owners.

In 2018, the MTA reported a significant increase to 15 fatal vehicle-related crashes.

Although Epps admits it is hard to identify exactly why the increases happen, educating drivers about vehicle maintenance is one way the Government can curb the rising road toll.

However, a Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency spokesperson says adding a vehicle maintenance component would add to the cost and time of the test.

"Any increased costs can make attaining a license less accessible for aspiring drivers."

The NZTA explained drivers can find online learning material for drivers license tests at drive.govt.nz, which includes information on basic vehicle maintenance. 

Depending on the outcome of the 2020 election, the MTA hopes to have the vehicle maintenance component in place as part of the license test before June 2021.