Call For Vehicle Power Curbs


The Christchurch court case involving a modified car and the death of a toddler in its path has prompted a call today for vehicle power restrictions for young drivers.

A move to investigate restricting access to high-powered or modified cars was signalled in the Government’s Safer Journey’s strategy released several months ago but has yet to go further.

Some Australian states have already introduced vehicle power restrictions for drivers under 25 as a condition of their learner or restricted licenses.

The Motor Trade Association says that while implementing a similar regime in New Zealand would not be without challenges, MTA believes the time is right for its introduction.

In the court case, a Christchurch teenager pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a toddler, who was walking on the footpath with his mother and brother.  The teenager also admitted to causing injury through operating a vehicle that had been modified and that was not suitable to be on the road.

According to the Police summary, the suspension on the car had been lowered and stronger springs fitted, which enabled it to slide more easily and may have contributed to the crash, the summary said.  A vehicle inspector’s report indicated that the suspension modifications were suited to a race-track environment.

MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said “While high powered cars are a significant issue on their own, as this case has sadly shown, improper modifications can be equally dangerous.  Younger owners are often tempted to carry out modifications themselves, in many cases without realising the affect even minor changes can have on the vehicle, especially under load or at higher speeds.”

V8 Supercar driver Greg Murphy is already taking this message to secondary school students across the country as part of MTA’s ‘Murph in Schools - Eliminate The Risk’ programme.

Owners considering any sort of modification to their vehicle need to ensure they have the work carried out by qualified and experienced technicians.  In some cases it has been found that vehicles are being modified after a WoF inspection, and then later returned to its original condition before the next WoF inspection takes place.

Stronach added “Effective inspection at the time of issuing a WoF and an ongoing prioritisation by Police to monitor the roadworthiness of vehicles and come down hard on those outside the law are key steps to reducing the risks that these improperly modified vehicles pose.  MTA urges the Minister and his officials to maintain their focus on what continues to be a problematic, and all too frequently, tragic aspect of the young driving experience





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