2009-03-06

CoF testing station closures won’t keep anyone safe

“The New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) proposal to close half of the Certificate of Fitness (CoF) offsite testing stations has more to do with saving money than with safety,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson.

“If Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) invested in its own business, 54 of the 127 offsite testing stations throughout New Zealand would not have to close.

“VTNZ blames the proposed closures on the introduction of the new Heavy Vehicle Brakes Rule by NZTA. As the offsites slated for closure do not meet the criteria set out by NZTA, VTNZ says the decision to close them is safety related.

“But it’s obvious that VTNZ is just not prepared to spend the money and provide enough roller brake testing machines to bring these offsites up to scratch, despite the importance of offsite testing stations to the rural economy.

“The proposed closures will disadvantage farmers and other members of the rural community who will have to travel much further to get a CoF. This will force some tractors onto our roads for longer periods of time, leading to more traffic congestion. Whichever way you look at it, clogging our roads up with heavy traffic is not good for road safety, the economy or the environment.

“As well as causing frustration for motorists, as by law, heavy agricultural vehicles cannot exceed 30km/h, the proposed closures will have a major impact on larger transport firms, some dairy companies and even the New Zealand Army. A lot of trucks, trailer units and armoured vehicles will be forced into larger towns.

“I am also very concerned that volunteer organisations such as the rural fire service will have to travel much further for a CoF. This reduces their availability for emergency callouts and that’s a big problem.

“A key guiding principle for CoF inspection services is that a testing station be located within 30 minutes or 40km of an operator. If the proposed closures take place, farmers and other heavy vehicle operators will have no choice but to travel significantly further for a CoF inspection.

“And if the vehicle fails its inspection, the operator will have to travel this extra distance, in a vehicle that is not road worthy, just to get back home. Does this improve road safety? I think not.

“Federated Farmers has submitted against the proposal to close these offsites. I have also raised the issue with the Ministers of Agriculture, Internal Affairs and Transport. We want a review of the proposal, ensuring rural communities still receive adequate access to necessary services. To achieve this, the 54 offsites must remain open,” Mr Aubrey concluded.

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