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Recent events in Victoria have brought to light the importance of roadworthiness, and some scary statistics in regards to compliance. A surprising  number of vehicles are not roadworthy, are without roadworthy certification, or are defective.

In Victoria you are required to obtain a roadworthy inspection for your vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • If the vehicle is transferred to a new owner.
  • When the vehicle is registered for the first time.
  • During re-registration of vehicle (after long period of non-registration).
  • When registering imported cars or individually constructed vehicles.
  • Cars previously labeled as “un-roadworthy” vehicle by the Victorian Police or Vicroads.

Recently a failure to maintain roadworthiness cost the lives of 2 motorists, injured 5 others when a Cootes Transport tanker lost control and burst into flames.

Subsequently Cootes was issued with 425 defect notices in Victoria and NSW, 221 of those were classed as pertaining to a major defect. 89 vehicles were also grounded.

Defect Notice

If the vehicle does not meet roadworthiness requirements, a Defect Notice may be issued by the following government agencies:

  • Police;
  • VicRoads;
  • Equivalent interstate inspectors;
  • Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), under Section 55AC (1), the Environment Protection Act 1970.

A Defect Notice will label any defects and repair requirements which must be undertaken by the vehicle’s owner.

Generally a Defect Notice is issued for mechanical failures and vehicle defects that are visible, such as damaged lights or lights that are not working properly, defective or worn out tyres, broken windscreens, or improperly modified cars. Government agencies may inspect your vehicle if it is on the road and they suspect that it may not be roadworthy.

Based on reports, about 10% of car accidents on the motorway are due to mechanical faults and vehicle defects. This includes defects due to a manufacturing fault, negligence by mechanic, or regular use (wear and tear) of the vehicle.

 A defect notice can be a Minor or Major defect notice.

  • Minor Defect Notice. This refers to defects that are considered minor problems, some of which may eventually lead to larger problems if left unattended and uncorrected. The vehicle is not considered a “defected vehicle” if it only receives a Minor Defect Notice.
  • Major Defect Notice. This refers to serious mechanical defects that pose grave and immediate safety risks or pose danger to other motorists. In most cases, the vehicle will be immediately “grounded.” The vehicle may be fixed on-site or towed to a repair shop.

Penalty for non-compliance of the Notice

According to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), about 36.37 percent of vehicles in Victoria are unsafe. The most common vehicle defects are noted that includes:

  • Faulty or poor steering and suspension (about 15%);
  • Use of worn out tyres (about 10%) including bald tyres, or tyres below minimum tread.
  • Poor or defective lighting;
  • Broken and or busted lights;
  • Defective windscreen, usually cracked and damaged; and
  • Defective braking systems.

Non-compliance of the Defect Notice

In cases where authorities find severe defects, an Infringement Notice may be issued, with a fine of up to $220 and three demerit points.

Operation Trishula

Operation Trishula is a joint operation between VicRoads, Victoria Police and WorkSafe that focuses on ensuring that heavy vehicles are roadworthy.

The result of the operation that had started in October last year and ended in June this year revealed that 80 per cent of trucks checked had major defects and safety risk to road users. The most common defects are defective brakes and suspensions.

Further Information

If you have been served with a defect notice and wish to challenge, or know more about, the notice you should contact a Victoria lawyers and receive independent legal advice. Any advice contained in this article is general in nature and should not be relied upon.