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Chch woman awarded $28,000

A Christchurch woman has been awarded $28,000 after the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal found defects in her Audi A6 had been concealed.

The Tribunal ruling stated that the latent defects in Joanna Fisher’s Audi A6 were deliberately covered up.

The defects were discovered during a warrant of fitness check in 2017, a year after Fisher purchased the vehicle from Chris Bird Motor Company.

The tribunal accepted that the car company’s managing director, Chris Bird, was not aware of the defects when Fisher purchased the vehicle.

Archibalds, another Christchurch motor company, discovered a “sophisticated” cover up of faults when carrying out the warrant of fitness.

Archibalds’ technician found the seat belt pre-tensioners were not plugged in and the two front airbags also had altered wiring.

“The vehicle’s wiring had been altered to mask these faults,” the tribunal stated.

“The altered wiring was, according to Archibalds, ‘tricking the airbag system into registering that it was functioning correctly”, the tribunal found.

“This meant the warning light on the dashboard identifying a problem with the airbags was suppressed.”

Chris Bird then complained to the New Zeaalnd Transport Agency (NZTA) because the vehicle has been issued with two warrants of fitness prior to Fisher purchased the vehicle.

“The tribunal’s assessor … observed that if this test had been done properly when the vehicle was inspected on entry into New Zealand, then the defect would have been picked up.

“The NZTA report suggests that if the seatbelt defect was discovered then it is probable the airbag issues would also have been found at the same time. The NZTA report concluded that neither of the earlier warrants of fitness should have been issued for the vehicle.”

The tribunal accepted Bird’s evidence he had been unaware of the defective seatbelts and airbags. 

Fisher was entitled to reject the Audi and to a refund of $24,979. She was also entitled to a refund of Archibalds’ invoice for $3279. 

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NZTA to roll out 41 EVs

The New Zealand Transport Agency is looking to add 41 electric vehicles, EVs to its current fleet and are seeking more information regarding the implementation of EV infrastructure.

In a request for information notice, the NZTA is ideally looking for a fleet charging solution that would “enable staff to confidently move to and from NZTA locations in fully electric vehicles.” The request also covers the need for information about providing, installing, operating and maintaining charging stations. 

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s decision to look at boosting its electric vehicle fleet and invest in charging infrastructure has been welcomed by Drive Electric.

Drive Electric Chairman, Mark Gilbert

Drive Electric, a not-for-profit group, which promotes the benefits of EV technology in New Zealand, congratulates NZTA on the move.

“NZTA’s proposal to add 41 EVs to its fleet in 2018 shows it is leading from the front in adopting technology that will eventually dominate the automotive sector in just a few years,” Drive Electric chairman Mark Gilbert says.

“With the Labour-New Zealand First government looking to the public sector to adopt EV technology as part of its coalition agreement, NZTA is getting on the wave early.”

Having the agency which is responsible for maintenance of New Zealand’s highways support EVs in this manner has the potential to drive up public interest, Gilbert says.

NZTA’s intention to invest in its own charging infrastructure to support the EV fleet is also a positive sign, Gilbert says.

“Looking into this type of investment shows the organisation is serious about using EVs in the long-term and wants to make it easy for staff to drive the vehicles. It is a signal we hope other government agencies will pick up on.”

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VR app for learner drivers

The NZ Transport Agency, together with ACC, have created a virtual reality app, Drive VR to help young New Zealanders gain the necessary experience and confidence at critical driving tasks such as observational skills.

They will be challenged to spot hazards, check blind spots and mirrors, and look out of windows.

The NZTA believes that the app gives learner drivers a taste of using their observation skills as they are required to do in practical driving tests, but in virtual reality. It can be used anywhere with their personal device – including at home or in the classroom.

They will be challenged to spot hazards, check blind spots and mirrors, and look out of windows—all from a virtual driver’s seat. Observation skills are tracked, so learners can keep improving on their high score.

Drive VR is made by Government agencies ACC and the NZ Transport Agency. It is part of the Drive programme that helps young people learn what they need to for every step of the licence process – from the learner licence theory test all the way through to getting their full licence.

“From speaking to hundreds of young Kiwis, we know that many of them feel daunted by driving practical tests and freeze up when it comes to doing them in real life,” says ACC Road Injury Prevention Manager, Dr. Simon Gianotti.

“We also know drivers who are more aware of others on the road and who are better at spotting hazards are safer drivers,” he says.

“We wanted to help them feel more comfortable behind the wheel by giving them the opportunity to practise their observation skills from the comfort of their own home. Nothing replaces real life practice but this new VR experience is an incredible tool in helping prepare safe, skilled young drivers.”

People can download the free app onto their mobile device. It’s best used with Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets for a more immersive experience– thousands of these are being given away on the Drive website.

For a chance to win Drive VR goggles or to find out more information Click Here

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Road safety campaign announced

The NZTA has introduced electronic tolling on the Northern Gateway Toll Road.
The NZTA has introduced electronic tolling on the Northern Gateway Toll Road.

A crisis meeting was called to discuss the rising number of deaths on New Zealand roads.

A new road safety campaign has been announced after the Motor Trade Association urged the Government to push for vehicle safety as New Zealand’s road toll creeps towards a ten year high. 

The road toll so far sits at 339, 42 more than last year, with still a month until the end of the year.

Two weeks ago, the Green Party’s Julie Anne Genter called representatives from police, the transport agency (NZTA) and Ministry of Transport to Wellington to figure out what changes will have the biggest impact in a short amount of time.

Some of the remedies being considered were improving dangerous roads, and improving awareness and education around road safety.

The joint police and NZTA campaign revolves around a simple message, “we want you here for christmas,” and hopes the simplicity will get through to motorists during this time of year.

“We’re just making sure people, going into the silly season, are paying attention to these things so that they can live long meaningful lives,” Superintendent Steve Greally said.

“Our advice is, as always, don’t drink and drive. Both of those activities are great on their own but they should be kept very separate.”

For Lisa Rossiter, who represented NZTA during the checkpoint operation, the road toll represents 339 broken families.

“As of today, we have got 339 families in New Zealand who have an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table.”

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Work underway to prevent crashes

Work has now started on safety improvements which aim to prevent people being killed or seriously injured on State Highway 33 from the Te Ngae Junction to Paengaroa.

The initiatives range from a wider centerline which will reduce head-on crashes, flexible roadside safety barriers and road shoulders will be widened near Paengaroa to help drivers recover if they veer off the road.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Director Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson, says this work is the first stage in a larger project aimed at preventing simple mistakes resulting in people being killed or seriously injured.

“Sixteen people have died and 46 have been seriously injured on this stretch of road between Te Ngae junction and Paengaroa from 2006 and 2015. Most of these crashes were head-on or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, poles or deep ditches.

“We’ve talked to the community about how we can make this road safer, and we’re making these changes based on what they’ve told us as well as our research. The route is 34km long with some tricky terrain so that’s why it will be finished in three stages. The first stage is the easiest to complete and we hope to start on stage two next year and stage three in 2019,” Mr Wilson says.

Work will stop during the state highway works moratorium period in December/January. At times, a temporary speed limit will be in place with warning signs to advise drivers that the works are in progress.

Work is expected to be completed by early 2018, weather permitting.

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AA supports 110km/h decision

The New Zealand Transport Agency has welcomed a 110km/h speed limit from the Cambridge Section of the Waikato Expressway and Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Roads.

Mike Noon, AA Motoring Affaird General Manager, says the AA supports the higher speed limit for both new roads because they have been designed to a much higher safety standard compared to other New Zealand roads.

“From a survey undertaken in August 2017, raising the limit to 110km/h on our safest roads was supported by 79% of AA Members,” says Mike.

“New Zealanders expect speed limits that sensibly reflect a road’s risk and these are two of the safest roads in the country so it makes sense to raise the speed limit on these roads.”

However this is not the case for all of our roads, and some of our older roads currently have limits that are too high and over time speed limits on these roads are likely to reduce. 

The two new roads that will have 110km/h limits are multi-lane highways, with a number of safety features including wide shoulders and median barriers to separate oncoming traffic as well as barriers on the left to prevent vehicles running off the road.

The new limits are consistent with speed limits on roads of the same quality in other countries around the world including Australia.

“The AA would also like to remind drivers that speed limits are not a target. The speed limit is the maximum speed you can travel in ideal conditions and in some situations you will find that you need to drive significantly slower than the posted speed limit,” says Mike.

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Association boss wins libel case

Brett used his personal website and social media to criticise the LVVTA and its chief executive, Anthony Johnson.

The High Court of New Zealand has ordered former vehicle certifier, John Brett, to pay $100,000 in damages after defaming his boss and an industry association.

Brett used his personal website and social media to criticise the Low-Volume Vehicle Technical Association (LVVTA) and its chief executive, Anthony Johnson.

The LVVTA certifies modified vehicles where construction may hinder their compliance with vehicle standards. It has a formal relationship with the NZTA, whereby the partnership governs and maintains the low-volume vehicle (LVV) code.

Johnson’s evidence demonstrates that Brett was “unwilling to apply the specified requirements”, and the relationship with the LVVTA was “long and challenging”.

The judgement also noted how Brett, on two occasions, was ranked the worst LVV certifier in respect of his technical, administrative and procedural errors. The second was during the following year where he was again ranked worst in terms of technical errors, but third worst in terms of administrative and procedural errors.

Brett made 32 times more safety-related technical errors than the average of all the other LVV certifiers.

Johnson gave evidence regarding the efforts made by the association and NZTA to support Brett.

However, Brett argued that, in some cases, the new LVV code was dangerous, leading to potentially unsafe outcomes. He stated a group of Auckland certifiers wrote a formal proposal to the LVVTA and NZTA, addressing issues that needed to be discussed. 

His authority to certify low-volume vehicles was revoked by the NZTA in 2012 due to being deemed “not a fit and proper person to be a LVV certifier”.

Brett was an authorised certifier from April 1999 to December 2012.

Since then Brett maintained a website containing “a steady stream of criticism of the competence and integrity” of the LVVTA and Johnson. Brett removed objectionable statements, but in 2014 he published further statements on his website and his Facebook page, alleging “general and particularised incompetence on the part of the LVVTA leading to deaths and injuries.”

Brett and the LVVTA entered into a settlement agreement, whereby the LVVTA agreed not to sue Brett for defamation in return for Brett removing material from his website and not posting more. Johnson’s evidence was that Brett didn’t comply.

A permanent injunction was sought, plus damages of $250,000 for defamation and legal costs for breach of contract.

The remedies granted by Justice Palmer were a damages award of $100,000 against Brett to Johnson, along with a permanent injunction “given proclivity to repeatedly defame the plaintiffs”.

Click here to read the full judgement.

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Christchurch opens more lanes on new motorway

Crews on Christchurch’s Western Belfast Bypass prepare to open more lanes of the new road this month.

The five-kilometre highway is a new four lane stretch of road extending the Christchurch Northern Motorway between Belfast and Johns Rd.

Traffic is slowly being allowed onto the new bypass after an open day on October 29 where around 10,000 walkers, cyclists and runners took to the road.

NZTA said that the bypass being opened in stages allows the project team to complete the final parts of the road, including connecting the bypass to the existing road network and carrying out surfacing work on the on and off ramps.

“There are speed restrictions in place in the area, however it is important that all road users play their part and stay focused to keep everyone safe” says Transport Agency Principal Project Manager, Geoff Griffiths. 

All lanes of the bypass are expected to open to traffic by November 17 (Show Weekend), but the final low-noise asphalt surfacing work will not happen until spring 2018.

Once complete, the bypass will reduce congestion and travel times and provide a better and safer link throughout greater Christchurch, says Mr Griffiths.

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VIA members: is your info up to date?

The VIA is calling on its members to update their information to ensure their access to the Motor Vehicle Register is maintained following NZTA changes. Here’s what you need to know.

From 31 October, NZTA’s new rules for accessing the Motor Vehicle Register (MVR) come into effect.

The process is simple, click on the image to get started.

VIA is an approved industry body, so as a member, you do not need to apply for access separately, but the VIA does your correct and up-to-date trading details.

To make sure you comply with MVR access rules, the VIA is asking its members to supply them with up-to-date business information by Wednesday, 11 October 2017.

You can do this by clicking here, or on the image to the right.

If you have any questions, the VIA ask that you contact VIA Technical Manager Malcolm Yorston on 0800 VIA VIA (842 842) or email technical@via.org.nz.

 

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NZTA emissions project seeks test vehicles

The NZTA has embarked on an emissions testing project with two Auckland consultancies, and has made a call for diesel vehicles to take part.

A 2012 report for the NZTA found that harmful emissions from vehicles cause 256 premature deaths (with social costs of $934 million) annually in New Zealand.

The research is a joint effort between Emission Impossible Ltd and AirQuality Ltd, and will be using a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) to test real-world fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from vehicles – a first in New Zealand for on-road emissions testing.

The project is an NZ Transport Agency research project which aims to improve our understanding of real world emissions and fuel consumption in New Zealand.

The project is looking for vehicles built to a range of emission standards, including light duty petrol and diesel vehicles and to heavy duty trucks.

A list of the vehicle types the project is looking to test.

Testing is scheduled to be undertaken in Auckland over October and November this year.

The project is one of several NZTA initiatives that seeks to reduce emissions in, others including subsidies for electric vehicles, the emissions trading scheme and the Heavy Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Programme, launched 2012.

Interest in the emissions testing project can be expressed via phone or email to Gerda Kuschel at Emission Impossible on 09 629 1435, or email at gerda@emissionimpossible.co.nz.

 

 

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EV owners to benefit from rule change

Electric Vehicle (EV) owners should benefit from a rule change where they will be exempt from road user charges and can possibly use bus and high occupancy vehicles lanes, when driving their EV.

According to transport minister Simon Bridges, as of 1 September, 2017 heavy EVS will be exempt from road user charges until they make up two per cent of New Zealand’s heavy vehicle fleet.

“Light EVs are already exempt from paying road user charges until 31 December 2021. On top of all of the other benefits that EVs generate, extending this exemption to heavy EVs will offer a significant cost reduction to the operators of these vehicles,” Bridges says.

Changes have also been made to Land Transport rules, which from 1 September, will enable road controlling authorities, such as the NZ Transport Agency and local and regional councils, to make bylaws to allow EVs access to special vehicle lanes, such as those dedicated to buses and high occupancy vehicles.

“The positive acceptance of EVs in New Zealand is having real benefits. We are now offering more choice in new EVs than ever before. We are also seeing an increase in the number of used EVs importers are bringing into the country,” Bridges says.

In May 2016, the Government announced its Electric Vehicle Programme, a wide ranging package of measures to encourage the uptake of EVs in New Zealand. The target is to double the fleet each year, reaching 64,000 EV registrations by the end of 2021.

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