ST. GEORGE — Two competing bills regarding vehicle safety inspections were recently introduced in the state Legislature, one asking for more frequent safety inspections and another seeking to eliminate them completely.
State Sen. Don Ipson, R-District 29 in Southern Utah, is sponsoring “Vehicle Safety Inspection Amendments,” designated as SB 77 1st Substitute, seeking to increase the frequency with which a motor vehicle is required to pass a safety inspection. The bill proposes vehicles be inspected at year six, in addition to inspections at years four, eight and 10, and every year thereafter.
“All we’re doing, we’re just adding that six year component to the process,” Ipson said in an interview with St. George News, noting that the amendment simply adds the phrase “sixth year” to the existing law.
Fiscal analyst Brian Wikle noted Ipson’s bill “could increase revenue to safety inspection stations by approximately $925,000 in FY 2018 and $1.85 million annually beginning in FY 2019.”
The revenue estimated to inspection providers accounts for inspection fees paid by the consumer. The analysis does not account for additional fees an inspection provider may gain for parts and services on cars that fail to pass inspection or to resolve other vehicle issues the provider notes during the inspection process.
The state’s Department of Public Safety would gain revenue of approximately $1,600 in 2018 and $3,200 ongoing annually in 2019 if Ipson’s bill passes, Wilke noted.
The competing “Safety Inspection Amendments” bill, designated HB 265, sponsored in the House by Rep. Daniel McCay, R-District 41, proposes to repeal requirements for certain vehicles to obtain a safety inspection certificate as a condition to registration. A fiscal note was sent to McCay but is yet to be available for public reading.
“Safety inspections cost Utah families money and time and recent research show there is no benefit to them,” McCay said.
While the bill to repeal safety inspections was only introduced Thursday and has yet to be debated, the bill requiring more frequent inspections passed to the Senate floor with favorable recommendations in a unanimous committee vote.
“Statistics just show that there’s enough safety concerns in vehicles that between four and eight years is just too long for them to go,” Ipson said, “and we feel that this will be an added safety component of the law.”
In a committee meeting Jan. 26, members of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee heard arguments for and against increasing the frequency of safety inspections.
“We all believed there is an issue with safety and vehicles, but you know, all it was was anecdotal and stories,” David Spatafore, a representative from Big O Tires and TechnaGlass, said. Both of the companies he represents benefit directly from safety inspection requirements.
Spatafore partnered with new and used car dealerships and car repair shops to put together an industry study producing hard numbers in regard to safety inspections.
The study involved inspecting for safety all cars that entered repair shops, whether or not they were there to be inspected. Fifty-two percent of the cars were in good working condition, while 48 percent had some kind of safety issue, Spatafore said.
“Now what that means is … if our car is safe and we’re driving down the interstate, every other car we saw that day while we were traveling could be unsafe,” Spatafore said.
He said 95 percent of the cars that passed through during the course of the study went on to be repaired before their next safety inspection due date.
Spatafore said the data from the study indicates that not only should vehicle inspections be maintained but should be conducted more frequently.
In opposition to the bill was Michael Melendez of the Libertas Institute, a Libertarian think tank based in Lehi, who said:
What we’ve seen throughout the country and in other states and the studies that’ve been done including by the government accountability office, vehicle safety inspections don’t promote vehicle safety in cars and most other states don’t have these programs and don’t see accidents being caused by vehicles in a grand fashion. They usually have the same rates that we do here in Utah.
Also in opposition was Heather Williamson of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group.
“Thirty-eight states don’t even require safety inspections at all, and I think keeping with our current is enough,” Williamson said. “I would urge you to look at who is pushing for this bill to pass and the special interests that are involved.”
Williamson also noted that individual citizen consumers are more likely to be against an increase in safety inspections, saying, “I think if more citizens could speak against this bill, they would be up here.”
In response, another industry representative, Wayne Jones, executive director of the Used Car Association in Utah, said a survey conducted among several used car dealerships in the state indicated that 60 percent of the problem vehicles that end up on their lots are out-of-state vehicles from states that do not require any kind of safety inspection.
“I believe that if there is an unsafe vehicle on the road, that injures another person that impairs on their right to life or to their property, I think that is much more than infringing on the privilege of operating a motor vehicle,” Sen. Daniel Thatcher said as the committee moved to make a motion at the end of the debate. “I think this a very modest step, and I will be supporting the motion.”
- Read the bills:
- Contact legislators:
- Bill sponsor: Don Ipson (SB 77) | Daniel McCay (HB 265)
- Southern Utah Sens. Ralph Okerlund, Don Ipson, Evan Vickers and David Hinkins | Listing of all senators.
- Southern Utah Reps. Walt Brooks, Merrill Nelson, Brad Last, John Westwood, Mike Noel, V. Lowry Snow and Jon Stanard | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives.
- Libertas Institute Policy Brief on Vehicle Safety Inspections
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