17 May 2022

Bald tyres and broken lights: get your car fixed before you get busted

| Claire Fenwicke
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Car with buster tail light

Damaged lights can render your car unsafe and unroadworthy. Photo: Richard Everson.

If your car needs to be given a once over by a mechanic, better book it now.

ACT Policing has announced officers will target vehicle roadworthiness on Canberra’s roads in particular throughout May.

Officers recently targeted ACT vehicles over the Mother’s Day weekend, accompanied by vehicle inspectors from Access Canberra’s Vehicle Safety Standards team.

The joint operations across two days saw both vehicle checks and alcohol and drug screening occur on the Hume and Barton Highways.

Of the 319 vehicles checked by the Vehicle Safety Standards team, 5 defect notices were issued and about 12 advisory warning were given to driver.

Meanwhile ACT Policing tested more than 156 drivers for drink and drug driving, with three drivers identified with the presence of a prescribed drug. Those drivers will be summonsed to attend the ACT Magistrates Court at a later date.

ACT Road Policing Acting Superintendent Steve Booth said police are concerned some vehicles are putting the safety of both their occupants and other road users at risk.

“Any vehicle on a road in the ACT may be subject to a random inspection at any time,” he said.

“This includes vehicles, whether occupied or not, in car parks and other road-related areas.

“Bald tyres, obstructed windscreens and broken lights all pose a risk to road users.”

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Act Supt Booth said while it’s understandable people may be putting off repairs to their vehicles because they’re worried about cost, it’s not an excuse to put other drivers at risk.

“What’s the value of your life? What’s the value of other people on the roads?” he asked.

“The most common issues we see, headlights and tail lights, are not expensive to get fixed and not a particularly difficult thing for you to fix yourself with a little bit of knowhow.”

Given we’re heading into winter, broken headlights and tail lights are of particular concern to officers.

“People are going to be travelling a lot more in poorer light conditions either in the mornings or afternoons, so it’s important your vehicles do have lights,” Act Supt Booth said.

“I can tell you from first-hand experience [the other day] when I was driving home, a vehicle in front of me decided to stop very suddenly and it might have had a very legitimate reason for that, but its tail lights didn’t work and it didn’t give me very much warning at all.

“Fortunately for me it was a low-speed road and I was paying attention, but if it had been quicker or I’d been less attentive, it could have been very uncomfortable.”

READ ALSO Is there such a thing as ‘safe speeding’?

Police will also be keeping an eye out for illegal modifications on vehicles. If you’re not sure if adjustments made to your vehicles are legal, Act Supt Booth had a simple answer:

“If you’ve got a mechanic and they tell you you’re not allowed to do something to your car, that’s because you’re not allowed to do it,” he said.

“Most of the illegal problems we see are backyard mechanics or young blokes who think they know what they’re doing because they saw it on TV.

“These are very expensive and very well-engineered vehicles and they’re designed in a specific way. When you change that, you change the manner in which they may perform on the road.”

He said this month wasn’t just about a crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles but also a chance to educate motorists to get into the habit of checking their vehicles.

“We want people to start to give [their vehicles] a bit more thought and to check their vehicles more regularly than they might be; ask a mate to check your lights are working,” Act Supt Booth said.

“It would be great if we go through the whole month and not give out a ticket for a defective vehicle.”

READ ALSO Insurance refund awaits Canberra motorists renewing passenger car registration

If any faults are identified, a major or minor defect notice or a warning notice could be issued.

Issues for drivers to look out for include:

  • Tyre condition and inflation pressures are within range
  • Check windscreen for cracks and chips, wiper blade condition and washer water levels
  • Ensure you don’t have any illegal modifications
  • Verify condition of seatbelts and baby capsules (if fitted)
  • Vehicle lights are working, including indicators
  • Trailers and caravans have a number plate clearly displayed on them and their lights are operational
  • Bike racks are not obstructing number plates and lights
  • L and P plates are correctly displayed
  • Remove ice on windscreens before driving
  • Ensure vehicles have no obstructed vision points
  • Verify current registration status (current expiry date)

“Roadworthy checks are required to ensure the safety of all Canberrans on our roads,” Act Supt Steve Booth said.

“It is important to take the time to check your vehicle. If you are not confident with vehicles, many mechanics will do a check for you for free or a small fee.”

Police are also reminding Canberrans to check their current registration status and ensure all personal details are up to date.

Visit the ACT Government motor vehicle inspection website for more details on roadworthy inspections.

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Does this mean those crazy raised Tonka Trucks all the rage with tradies are going to be looked at? While they are at it, are they going to be looking at the tradies because many seem to be exceeding the weight limits with those monster trailers they drag around? Bet they don’t get a look in.

You mean those people who actually contribute to the economy?

“Act Supt Booth said while it’s understandable people may be putting off repairs to their vehicles because they’re worried about cost, it’s not an excuse to put other drivers at risk.”

Annual rego checks sort this issue out. unroadworthy vehicle = no rego renewal

russianafroman11:32 am 19 May 22

Don’t forget if your tail light is broken you get get a good used one on ebay. You will save a lot of money this way.

Drivers should write in their calendar to check their tyres every 3 months (including the spare), and check all their lights every month. Older vehicles should be required to have annual roadworthy inspections.

Capital Retro2:01 pm 19 May 22

Also write in the rego expiry date on your calendar as Canberra Connect can’t be relied on to mail out the annual renewal notices anymore.

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