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35 per cent of vehicles unsafe – VACC

Worn: Defective tyres are the number one offender when it comes to failing safety standards in Victoria.

Defective tyres and brakes top safety concerns on Victoria’s roads in VACC report

General News logo11 Apr 2011

MORE than a third of vehicles tested in the first quarter of this year failed to meet basic safety standards, according to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce.

The VACC reported that 266 of the 756 vehicles subjected to a five-point safety check by participating repairers were found to have safety defects – the worst result since the peak automotive industry body in Victoria began gathering safety data in 2005.

This year’s 35.7 per cent failure rate indicates an alarming rise in the proportion of unsafe vehicles. By comparison, 27.9 per cent of vehicles tested between January and September last year were deemed unsafe while for the period January to June 2009 the figure was 24.8 per cent.

“We keep telling people about the importance of vehicle safety and no one seems to listen,” said VACC executive director David Purchase. “Maybe now, with the State’s worst ever results revealed, people will sit up and take notice.

“Motorists and government agencies should have a long hard think about this. Every quarter we produce our figures and, consistently, the data indicates that approximately one-in-four vehicles are unsafe.

80 center imageLeft: VACC executive director David Purchase.

“This alone should be enough to cause concern, but now the figure has crept up to 35 per cent we really do need to ring the alarm bells.”

The five-point check encompasses brakes, lights, restraints, steering and tyres.

Defective tyres are consistently the number one offender, cited as a reason for 18.0 per cent of failures this year, followed by brake problems, which accounted for 11.7 per cent – and the figures suggest that many vehicles failed on more than one aspect of the test.

Considering that Victoria has just experienced its wettest first quarter on record, the number of failures caused by tyres raises concerns. Worn-out tyres – Australia’s legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm – provide lower levels of grip on wet roads and are less able to resist aquaplaning.

Unlike New South Wales, Victoria does not have compulsory annual roadworthy checks.

“The most frustrating thing is that a regular service by a professional would address most of these basic faults,” said Mr Purchase.

“However, left unchecked, that worn tyre or faulty seatbelt or broken light could result in loss of life.”

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average age of cars on Australian roads is 10 years, a slight ageing compared to 2008’s average of 9.9 years.

The size of the Australian fleet exceeded 16 million vehicles for the first time last year, up 2.5 per cent on 2009’s figure of 15.7 million.

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