Be Car Care Aware: Encouraging drivers to maintain safe vehicles
By Marc Brazeau, President, Automotive Industries Association (AIA) Canada
The safety of a vehicle and its passengers on the road is not limited to variables such as driver distraction, road conditions and driver behaviour – it also depends on the vehicle’s mechanical reliability and integrity.
Brakes, tires, even shocks and struts and working lights are examples of products that play a significant role in road safety. The Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada, through studies and research, attempts to demonstrate the growing issue of underperformed vehicle maintenance and its significant impact on consumer safety, economics and the environment.
As Canadians stretch their dollars further, it’s not surprising that our nation’s vehicle fleet is aging. In 2011, vehicles between the ages of six and 12 years old increased by 2.0 million units, rising from 38.3 per cent to 41.8 per cent of Canada’s total vehicle fleet, according to the 2011 Canadian Automotive Demand Study (the Study), produced by AIA in cooperation with DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Wrongfully, many Canadians attempt to further reduce costs by delaying, or deciding to forego vehicle maintenance and repairs all together.
This means that unsafe and unmaintained vehicles are on our roads and highways, jeopardizing the health and safety of motorists and their families.
Economically, under-maintained vehicles are stifling productivity and market growth. Real demand for maintenance and repairs is $30.40 billion annually, while actual services performed is $18.49 billion, according to the study. This translates into vehicles between the ages of 4 and 12 years old being under-serviced by an average of $239 per vehicle.
If all Canadians were to maintain their vehicle as recommended, an additional $11.91 billion would flow into all levels of the automotive aftermarket supply chain, from the shop to the manufacturer.
While significant economic benefits would be realized, the primary benefit of increased vehicle maintenance and repair would be improved safety for Canadian motorists on our roads and highways.
Be Car Care Aware
The AIA created the Be Car Care Aware (BCCA) program to provide consumers with education-based resources on vehicle maintenance and repair to promote safe and reliable vehicles.
Built around three key message areas of dependability and safety, protecting the environment and protecting vehicle value, the not-for-profit program uses a number of venues to communicate with the public. These include the provision of proactive resources to consumers, an informative website, partnership opportunities and the development of various tools and handbooks.
From the AIA’s perspective, preventative maintenance is no different or less important than regular medical or dental check-ups. Understanding what is working and what is not in a vehicle is much the same process; it avoids more costly and painful issues down the road.
Road conditions and repair matter as much as driver behaviour. Nevertheless, the best roads and drivers will not compensate for faulty brakes or windshields that do not defrost properly.
It is up to the industry and bodies operating in road safety to continue to communicate to consumers the importance of road safety. Through ongoing education initiatives like the BCCA program and others, we can work to prevent injuries on our roads and highways and improve the safety of all motorists.