PTI reveals safety-related deficiencies
Given the fact that – as previously mentioned – many young drivers very often drive older vehicles, mainly for financial reasons, periodic monitoring is and will remain a key aspect of road safety. Aging, wear, and often a lack of awareness about technical faults as well as skimping on repairs and maintenance inevitably mean that older cars usually exhibit significant defects more frequently, and thus present a greater accident risk than newer cars. However, a high level of road safety is only possible if the vehicles are in good technical condition and if this is monitored regularly.
One look at the results of the general vehicle inspections carried out by DEKRA in Germany in 2020 makes it clear how important the periodic inspection is (Figure 15). Defects were found in about a third of all vehicles. Almost 12.5 percent of vehicles had minor defects, while around 20.5 percent had significant defects. Dangerous defects were found in 0.5 percent of the vehicles. Fortunately, only around 0.05 percent of the cars were not in a roadworthy condition.
If you split the results according to vehicle age, the following picture emerges: almost 8 percent of vehicles up to three years old had defects, while around 20 percent of vehicles between five and seven years old had them. Vehicles older than nine years had a defect rate of 40 percent. In fact, 25 percent of these had serious defects. Ultimately, however, the true defect rate of vehicles on the road is undoubtedly far higher than that shown in the defect statistics from DEKRA and other testing organizations.
THE DEFECT RATE INCREASES SIGNIFICANTLY WITH THE AGE OF THE VEHICLES
Background: a lot of repairs and service work do not get dealt with until the general inspection is due. This means that the vehicles often go into the inspection having been prepared beforehand. Amongst other things, this has been shown by the results of the Safety Check DEKRA conducted together with the Deutsche Verkehrswacht (German Road Safety Volunteer Organization) and the Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat (German Road Safety Council) over a number of years. Through this campaign, young adults could have their vehicles checked for safety defects free of charge, outside of the mandatory vehicle inspection. It has shown both that the vehicles in the target group were significantly older than the average of all vehicles and that the proportion of defective vehicles was well above the average for the general inspection. The cars tested in the Safety Check were approximately twelve years old on average, and the total defect rate of the vehicles reached values of around 75 percent. Most of the defects were found in the chassis, the wheels/tires, the bodywork, the lighting system, the electrics/electronics, and the braking system.
If you take a closer look at the defects DEKRA found in PTI in Germany in 2020, you can see that the lighting equipment, at about 25 percent, and the brakes, at around 16 percent, were in first and second place. Defects in axles, including wheels and tires, also ranked high at over 14 percent. However, in the case of vehicles up to three years old, the experts only found fault with the lighting equipment in about 4 percent of the cases. This percentage increased to almost 30 percent for vehicles over nine years old and to over 45 percent for vehicles over twelve years old. This sharp increase could be seen across all components, which makes it clear that, on average, the older the vehicle is, the more defects it has.
Clearly, whether passengers reach their destination safely and unharmed crucially depends on the condition of the brakes, the chassis, the tires, and the lighting system. This applies above all on roads outside of built-up areas which feature risks such as higher driving speeds or differences in speed between road users, varying road surface qualities and oncoming traffic or crossing traffic. The examples of accidents presented in this report make this abundantly clear.