Changes To The Motor Vehicles Standards Act May Alter The Face Of Australian Cars

As the Australian automotive landscape continues to evolve, the first review of the Motor Vehicles Standards Act in 14 years is likely to bring significant changes

On January 16, 2014 the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon. Jamie Briggs MP approved the Terms of Reference for a comprehensive review of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (The Act), which is currently underway.

The review will focus on a number of areas surrounding new and imported cars in Australia. Much of the catalyst for the review has stemmed from the changing landscape of the country’s automotive industry, including the removal of Australian manufacturing, growing free trade agreements and the need to align with global benchmarks.

According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website, The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 and Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989 (The Regulations) make it an offence to import, sell or present new or used imported vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless they meet the National Standards.
As part of these, are the Australian Design Rules (ADRs), which represent the statutory guidelines governing vehicle safety, emissions and security standards in Australia.

The Government has identified that efficient and up-to-date processes are important for motor vehicle manufacturers as well as for ensuring the quality and safety of vehicles for Australian drivers.

The 2014 review will carry on a number of initiatives started last year by the (former) Department of Infrastructure and Transport, which managed public consultation on The Act and The Regulations to measure its effectiveness. As part of its drive to gather public opinion, submissions were invited from individuals and organisations to provide feedback on The Act’s structure and relevance.

In a media release explaining the Government’s intentions with the review, the Hon. Jamie Briggs MP said that:

‘There have been significant changes in vehicle technology and the motor vehicle manufacturing industry. We are working to deliver a regulatory system that is in touch with industry best practice… [and] will identify options to reduce the regulatory burden on business and improve the safety, environmental and anti-theft provisions of the legislation.’

Some of the specific matters that will be taken into consideration include the current and future likely structure of the motor vehicle industry, the needs and requirements of consumers and road users and the impacts of the aftermarket on the integrity of the Australian Design Rules (ADRs). Australia’s international obligations in implementing standards relating to vehicle safety, emissions and more will also be examined.

The Department is currently developing an options paper surrounding The Act review for release in the middle of the year.

1 comment

  1. Graeme W. Johnson

    Dear Sirs,

    There is some concern here in Victoria about accidents involving elderly drivers. Increasingly commonly one hears of a car going out of control “because the driver pressed on the accelerator instead of the brake”.

    I am 82 and don’t drive any more, since I had a similar experience. For some time it was hard to work out why the car would not stop, despite one pressing very hard on the “brake”. At length, after a second, very minor episode, I realised that I wasn’t pressing on anything, except the floorboards. I have been driving for 60 years, without any problem. But about 7 years ago my foot occasionally slipped off the bottom of the brake pedal on the car I had then; and since it had rather small pedals, I blamed that, and welded extra metal onto the brake and clutch pads, to lengthen them downward by an inch or two, and the problem never recurred. So I largely forgot about it. (It had never caused an accident, because it was obvious what had happened, and there was time to correct it).

    I am a retired doctor, and 50 years of training kicks in, making me determined to find the reason for these later episodes. Some research indicates that people only rarely press on the wrong pedal, but in many modern cars it is too easy to miss the brake. Often one has to lift one’s foot a little to reach it, but with increasing age one tends to leave the heel on the floor, and simply rotate the foot. It is too easy for the foot to go under the pedal.

    Our present car has a gap of 115mm (4.5 inches) between the bottom of the pedal and the floor. If it were extended downward some 50mm (2-25 inches), it would still not hit the floor, even with extended travel due to the brakes needing adjustment, and it would be much harder for the driver to miss it.

    I believe the problem would be very largely solved by a small change in Australian design rules, stipulating that there should be only 50-55mm between the bottom of the pedal and the floor (or whatever distance that further research suggests is ideal). As a start, I would expect that in nearly all cases a simple question would show that nearly all these cars would have automatic transmissions, since in a manual car the driver would be declutching the drive anyway,

    Yours Faithfully

    G.W. Johnson FRCS

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