Car Hand Controls

Nobody in Control

My vehicle has hand controls for breaking and acceleration. This is due to a disability, not laziness. Although, unlike other drivers, I can now tap my foot to the radio. This mechanical arrangement is not complex. You pull the handle for 'GO' and push it for 'STOP'.

It is bolted to the steering column, then the pedal. Hardly sophisticated alien technology recovered from the crash at Roswell.

I stress the simplicity of design because right now nobody can tell me if this is legal.

When I fist purchased a vehicle I paid for the approved equipment, then for an approved installer to install it, then a pile more for this work to be 'Approved' by an inspector.

I have since changed vehicles and had the same system installed.

However, when I went for my last Warrant of Fitness (WOF) my car was declined because of this modification. I should mention here that the SAME garage approved my last warrant for the same car in the SAME condition.

He didn't recognize me because he undertook the first job for the panel beater next door. It was being repaired after some tard had run into the back of my parked car. It must have been deceptively still...

I have also received a half dozen other warrants from different testers all for the car in this condition. All passed.

This issue did arise once before. The Vehicle Testing Station in Onehunga sent me away while they checked if the hand controls were a Problem. They didn't know. I came back and they gave me the WOF. They told me that they checked and nothing further was needed.

Yes, I got another ticket for no WOF during this delay.

Now it's happening again and nobody could tell me what to do next. How to make my car legal.

These are approved agents of the government handing out WOF. I really don't think that it's too much to ask they know what they are doing. Or at least know how to find out what to do.

After countless phone calls and getting nowhere I was sick of this. I wrote to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Mark Gosche, Ruth Dyson (Disability Issues), Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Social Development.

Useless Buggers

Someone there had to be able to help. Right?

Wrong.

I had now received another $200 ticket for having no WOF. I now didn't have a current registration either. Can't get that till I get the WOF. I tried. Can't get the WOF till I get some help. In the meanwhile I can't park my car for fear of getting more $200 tickets.

I feel like Bin Laden hiding from the CIA. I stay away from the built up areas... Only leaving my cave for supplies.

If I go to town I need to hide my crimemobile in the parking garages of friends - miles from when I am trying to get to.

I wrote to the Auckland City Council explaining the situation and asking that they waive the fine and advise me what to do next. That I had literally no way of making my perfectly road worthy car legal until I received instructions from the people who run THEIR confused system.

I get a letter back from Elizabeth Milne (Infringement Review Advisor) saying that, after deliberation, they have decided to proceed with the notice. "If a vehicle is unable to display a current WOF sticker. The vehicle should remain off street".

Her letter simply ignored my every concern and offered no solution. She also ignored phone messages to contact me.

I had to yell at someone else on their elite staff and promise to chain myself to their front doors after calling the media before she finally rang back. Milne claimed that she would look at it again but I have heard nothing since.

It looks like I will now need to take this to court. Apparently it is council policy that I lock up the car and exist on delivery pizza for a few months until someone can tell me what to do next. Some friends may even come around and visit. That will be nice...

Fuck that.

I have that 'Need to live a life and work' thing. Transport is required for this. Their problem They need to fix it.

The Auckland City Council's website speaks of 'Creating a fully inclusive society!' and 'Breaking down the barriers'.

Their mission:
"To create a fully inclusive Auckland, both physical and social barriers to community and civic participation must first be removed. In other words, this is about creating a truly accessible environment for ALL disabled people so that they are treated with respect and can participate fully in all areas of life".

Just without a car. Or any advice on your broken system? Right. Got it.

Then I finally get something useful. Someone gives me actual directions:

"Any modified vehicle needs to be certified by a Low Volume Vehicle (LVV) Certifier. Once certified, a LVV plate is attached to the fire wall which will clearly show what modifications have been done and approved".

Right. They attach a helpful link to a website.

This group sounds official - but it's essentially a car club. Now I have no issue with the Ministry of Transport letting experts in their field of interest approve the car modifications of others in that field of interest.

But surely the government can see that the issues of the disabled are different from boy racers wanting to lower their cars or put a spa pool in the back of a Holden they have stretched?

Anyway... I visited the site.

It offered no way of contacting them and the links to information on approving vehicles for the disabled was corrupted and unusable. Ugh.

I wrote back to the Ministry of Transport again. More phone calls. I'm told that the government was now trying to track them down - the people who enforce its own laws. I kinda thought they might have their number somewhere...

The only information that I could find on the website suggested that I didn't need a special inspection because the hand controls didn't "affect the integrity and rigidity of the permanent vehicle structure".

They must have been given a talking to because they have now added the following to the site's front page:

"There are others within the LVV community who are equally passionate about different but no less important forms of modification; setting up vehicles with special control and access systems for people with disabilities".

Right... I'm 'Passionate' about breasts. Don't charge $500 to look at them.

Oh... That's the certification charge. $500.

I also asked for the email address of the person in charge of Land Transport so I could get some accountability happening. This was just ignored.

More phone calls. Then I get an email from Susan Cameron at Land Transport with a list of certifiers.

At last!

She understands that ACC normally cover the cost of LVV certification.

They don't as it turns out.

If you drive drunk and become a cripple they do.

Born that way - you are on your own you limpy bastard.

I finally reach a certifier who is helpful, nice fella. But he raises a totally new issue.

He asks if I have been approved to drive. Apparently a disabled person needs to be approved in addition to the controls. Isn't this question a little late? I have been driving for fifteen years or more with out incident.

He didn't know who to contact to check about this.

Fuck sake. Back to the drawing board.

Don't remember anyone asking about this when I got my drivers licence - or recently renewed it. Just says 'Needs glasses' from memory.

This is chaos.

I wrote AGAIN to Land Transport to ask them if I need to be assessed. Did they have a list of these people? How much more was THAT going to cost?

I have received no reply.

This is now where the matter stands...

I finally had to park in Newmarket for twenty minutes last night - another $400 in fines when I returned. I called in to the Council again the next day to say I need a court hearing for these as well.

Dammed if I don't have better things to do with my time and energy.

This stupidity started in February and now its April. How much time does the government need to work out what its own rules are?

So my questions are:

  1. Why do the government-approved agents who issue Warrant Of Fitness have no knowledge of the system here?

    Land Transport: "As advised there is further investigation being undertaken by the Vehicle Compliance Unit into the Warrant of Fitness services that provided you with WoF's before the certification".

    Never heard more about that.

    They also failed to respond to my question about getting my money back from the last several WOF agents who didn't do their job.


  2. Is it really acceptable for the government to pass of responsibility for disabled drivers to a car club?

    That they themselves can't get hold of? Cripples are not Hot Rods.


  3. Why does it cost $450 or more to wiggle and approve a hand control - when an ENTIRE vehicle can be checked for safety and given the ok for $25?


  4. Why does ACC only cover these costs for careless citizens disabled in accidents? Not those born with disabilities.


  5. Lastly... Once and for all... HOW DO I GET MY CAR LEGAL!!!!?

I'm changing cars later in the year - after a long time with this one. That will be another $500 in cripple tax on top of the conversion costs.

This whole 'Not walking' thing is expensive....

I have now done everything unreasonably possible to meet my obligations under the law.

Now its up to the government to tell me what they want.

How many other disabled people has this system screwed like this?

I may just go to another testing station. Ignore the law and get a WOF from them.

After all... 99% of them don't know better.


Update April:

On the 26th April I called  Milne at the council again in response to a letter from her.

It stated that she "... appreciates the difficulties" that I had experienced but was proceeding with the prosecutions.

I asked specifically "So its the policy of the Auckland City Council that disabled people should stay home without transport and starve while the government takes months to work out its own rules?"

She replied "Yes - that's right".

Wow.

Then I get letters from Vanessa Olivier, Prosecutor, Auckland City Council.

I called her to make sure that she was aware of the history here. She confirmed that she was.

I asked "So you understand that there was literally no way to make this car legal? That I tried everything?"

She replied "That's my understanding, yes".

"So you would prosecute anything you were told to, no matter how immoral?"

She thought about it and said "Yes".

Wow again.

All together now ... "Just following orders".

What a morally bankrupt council we have.

On 7th June I called the courts, as their letter to suggested, to find the date of the hearing. After an AGE of waiting they asked "Are you sure its here?"

This went on for ages and ultimately - after quoting all their reference numbers to them - they could offer nothing. No idea their own system.

Insane. This entire system is insane.

Once again, the Mayor ignores all attempts to contact him. Thanks.

So now its up to the courts this week.  I hope sanity FINALLY prevails.

Update September:

The Justices of the Peace have now directed the Registrar to set this down for a hearing on 18th October. So now I have to go to court to argue this.

 

Because nobody will simply accept that a responsible citizen, who exhausted every avenue but could not make their safe car legal, needed to go out for food.

 

Will ANYONE apply some common sense here? Hope springs eternal.

The Auckland City parking wardens have a proud history of costing me money and bringing me misery.

Here is one case:

My bumper was just hanging over the yellow line of the disabled park I was using. It had to because another car was badly parked in the second disabled park in front. Illegally. I blocked NOTHING. Wouldn't have parked there if I had.

I come back to find my car towed and the other one still there! Without even a ticket.

My tire was punctured during the tow. Requiring a roadside joining fee for the AA and repairs costing hundreds. My electric window was also ruined when they broke in. All on top of taxi fees etc.

Cheers for that.

This was around the time I left a note in my window saying that my new parking permit was in the post - please don't ticket me. They didn't. They towed me and ticketed me. Ignoring the presence of the same hand controls in issue now. That only disabled people use.

I was disputing these tickets. That didn't stop the council's collections staff contacting my father by mistake (Different home and contact details) and bullying him into paying! Bastards.

Yes that's a breach of the privacy act to give out my details to him isn't it? Didn't stop them. They admitted this mistake and said this money would be repaid to my father. Of course it was not.

I am not a hypocrite. If we are to enjoy a smooth running city then we need rules and people to enforce them. Doing a difficult job. But I suffered case after case of ignorance and flat out unfairness at the hands of these pricks. At a hellish time in my personal life when I really didn't need any more stress.

This time - they can go fuck themselves.


As if this wasn't draining enough ...

I get a letter today (24th June) from the Ministry of Justice saying that someone who had a similar name to me had fines so "We would appreciate you taking the time to call to clarify the matter".

I do.

After another insanely long wait some smug prick says that he doesn't care that its not me. That its up to ME to prove THEIR error.

He acknowledged that the Police have speed camera pictures of a car that will not be mine, with a number plate that is not mine, with previous infringement notices being sent to an address that I have never had and that I had never had a speeding ticket in my life.

He couldn't have cared less without yawning and sighing. 

So I wasted another morning checking that no other car had been registered in my name, none had.

I checked with the police who confirmed there was another Loder with that EXACT name living in Wellington.

So I call the MOT back, finally talk to a human with a soul and it turns out that this is just a fishing exercise they do to find defaulters.

The last asshole that I dealt with "Didn't follow procedures".

No.

Or 'Give a shit'.

Is there ANY part of this system that knows what the hell it is doing?

From the law itself, to those that enforce it, to those who prosecute it, to the court that hears it - inept. 

The public really does deserve better than this.


Oh, the following month I received the very same letter again ...

Mike Loder, 2007

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