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Regular Vehicle Inspections Are Increasingly Important

Jun 2017

Vehicle Technology

As long as systems for assisted and automated driving are installed in a car, care must be taken to ensure that they – along with the passive, active and integrated safety systems – work reliably throughout the vehicle’s service life. Only in this way can they have their desired impact. Regular vehicle inspections, which have been routine for many years in many countries around the world, will therefore become even more important than they already are, not least because of the growing complexity of the systems and the risk of electronic tampering. As many studies show, even vehicle electronics are not immune from wear and tear, nor are they free of system errors. They can also be tampered with, deactivated or even removed from the vehicle. Inspections conducted by the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA) have shown that in-vehicle electronic systems exhibit similar fault rates and aging-related failure behavior as mechanical systems. The number of faults increases with both vehicle age and driving performance. Despite all the advances made in the field of electronic components, mechanical systems will of course continue to play a key role when it comes to road safety. During regular vehicle inspections, therefore, the brake and steering systems will be subjected to every bit as rigorous an examination as, say, the lights, axles, wheels and tires, suspension systems, chassis, frame and structure as well as visibility conditions, to name just a few examples. The importance of this can be seen in France, for example. When the mandatory Contrôle Technique was first introduced in 1992, the technical condition of the vehicles on the roads noticeably improved. According to DEKRA statistics, the defect rate of a whole range of modules including the brakes and lighting systems fell by 50% and more. Turkey, too, is an excellent example highlighting the significant benefits of periodical technical inspections (PTI) for road safety. Up to the end of 2007, vehicle checks were performed by a Turkey-wide network of state testing centers. These checks involved a visual inspection during which the data contained in the vehicle papers were compared with the condition of the vehicle. The only decisive criterion was the roadworthiness of the vehicle upon presentation. In 2008, a PTI based on the European model with fixed, defined standards was introduced. Since then, the number of traffic fatalities has fallen by 40% within just a few years. The example in the US state of Idaho also highlights the effectiveness of periodic checks. The PTI program was stopped here in 1997. Just two years later, the number of mechanically defective or unsafe cars increased considerably. The condition of the brakes in older cars was also much worse than before the PTI was abolished. There was also a noticeable deterioration in the condition of steering, suspension and drivetrain systems. In contrast, the US state of Texas introduced a PTI program in 1999 – and within just a short period of time, the percentage of accidents caused by vehicle defects fell from 12% to 4%. Given these statistics, the introduction of PTI programs in, for example, many newly industrializing and developing countries would have many positive effects.

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