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Mechanics, not cops, should defect cars: RAA

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State Government-employed mechanics should lead car defect inspections for SA Police on the state’s roads, the RAA says.

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The RAA believes the inconvenience of receiving an unnecessary defect notice from police could be reduced, and road safety could be improved, if government mechanics inspected cars for defects on behalf of police.

Under the Road Traffic Act, a police officer can examine a vehicle which they suspect on reasonable grounds to have deficiencies.

However, the RAA’s senior manager, mobility and automotive policy, Mark Borlace, told InDaily that while police officers are given training to detect problems with vehicles, a qualified mechanic from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) could make a more accurate judgement about the state of a vehicle.

“The coppers get general training on what they should be looking for,” he said.

“[However] the people that are [inspecting vehicles] should be fully qualified.

“You should have people that can make the best judgement at the time.

“If it’s found that it wasn’t really a defect, it’s an inconvenience you don’t want.

“The way of minimising that risk is to have highly trained of qualified people making those decisions on the roadside.”

Another RAA spokesperson said that motorists can be given defect notices on the roadside, only to have those notices retracted when the vehicle is presented for examination at a police station or to DPTI – although these instances are rare.

A spokesperson for SA police told InDaily officers were well trained to conduct vehicle defect inspections themselves.

“SAPOL members are suitably qualified to conduct the roadside preliminary defect examinations and when in doubt may refer the vehicle (via defect notice) to DPTI examiners for closer examination,” the spokesperson said.

Data from the independent automotive organisation shows that a vehicle fault was the reported error in more than 1000 out of the more than 101,278 crashes on South Australian roads during the five years 2010 to 2014. Of the 1018 crashes due primarily to a vehicle fault during that period, 77 crashes involved failed brakes.

Four of the crashes listed as “vehicle fault” were fatal, 38 involved a serious injury, 102 involved a minor injury and 797 caused property damage only.

Borlace told InDaily that bald tires were one of the most common vehicle faults that contribute to car crashes on the state’s roads.

He said tires were often a “grudge buy” for most people, but that overused tires can lose grip of the road at high speeds, and especially in the wet.

He said it was important that motorists checked them regularly.

Currently in South Australia, buses with more than 13 seats are required to undergo annual roadworthiness inspections, as are road trains and B-double trucks not accredited in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme, a spokesperson for the federal Transport Department told InDaily.

The Federal Government regulates compliance standards for light vehicles supplied to market.

“Once the compliant light vehicle is supplied to market, responsibility for the ongoing standard of the vehicle rests with the jurisdiction it is registered or is travelling in,” the spokesperson said.

InDaily contacted DPTI for comment.

Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

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