Losing Safety Inspections—Again
The so-called “anti-safety inspection bill” has fallen back into the hands of the Missouri Legislature. House Bill (HB) 451 was reintroduced in January by State Rep. J. Eggleston, assistant floor leader of the House, according to a press release.
HB 1444 “repeals the inspection requirement for non-commercial motor vehicles, which is currently required in order to renew a motor vehicle license,” according to the Bill summary from the House of Representatives.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) plans to oppose the bill, reigniting efforts that previously halted the bill from passing in May of 2018.
“There are approximately 15 state vehicle inspection programs,” ASA mechanical division director Tom Piippo said in a press release. “With the number of recalls and rapidly increasing vehicle technologies, the trend should be for more state inspection programs, not less. Missouri’s program is one of the best in the nation, and ASA has profiled it in hearings in Washington, D.C., and in other states. Any effort to repeal the program is nonsensical."
Information obtained from the House of Representatives’ committee notes reveal that supporters of the bill, “say the bill will reduce government regulation and inconvenience to citizens without impacting roadway safety in any respect. Most other states have abolished safety inspections and there is no statistically showing of greater accident or injury rates.”
From tax dollars to time, Rep. Eggleston shares why he’s in favor of dismembering the bill and leaving annual safety inspections in the past for Missouri, while ASA’s Washington DC Representative Bob Redding provides a counterpoint argument.
The Safety Question
During Rep. Eggleston’s research, he decided to compare how much safer states were when they had inspections, compared to those that didn’t. The first source he looked to was the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which holds records of fatal accidents.
After sorting states by safest to most dangerous, Rep. Eggleston discovered inspections didn’t necessarily mean states were safer.
“Some are in the safe half, some are in the dangerous half—there really doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the states that have inspection and the ones that dont,” Rep. Eggleston says.
Rep. Eggleston decided to continue looking to see if further data would explain whether or not states with safety inspections are safer. To further investigate, Rep. Eggleston says he looked towards studies done by the Highway Patrol comparing states that have inspections with states that don’t.
“I got their most recent study and in it, it says they believe about 1.6 percent of all fatal accidents involve some sort of mechanical problem in states that have inspection programs,” Rep. Eggleston said. “So, they have inspections, but still 1.6 percent of traffic deaths have been due to mechanical failure they think, or that may be in the cause.”
“In the states that don’t inspections, that number is 1.4 percent—it’s not greater, in fact, it’s a hair less in states that don’t do inspections.”
According to Redding, it’s difficult to capture all means of accidents.
“We’ve been down this road before. This is not about long lines and trying to tax the citizen—this is about vehicle safety,” Redding says. “When you have an accident, in most states, there are not investigations on brake and those kinds of matters, unless there’s a significant injury or death, so it’s too late.
“This is a preventative rule or law and it’s not different from you seeing a doctor once per year.”
The Autonomous Vehicle Influence
If the program is taken away, Missourians would save roughly $30 million dollars, according to Rep. Eggleston. In addition, citizens would ideally not have to spend money on transportation to the the repair shop as well as lose time in productivity.
“In Missouri, there’s roughly two-and-a-half million inspections done, and they charge $12 bucks a piece for this, so that adds up to $30 million dollars in fees that Missourians have to pay to comply with this regulation that doesn’t really seem to be giving any more safety than not having the regulation,” Rep. Eggleston says. “It’s a cost and there’s a hassle.”
According to Redding, the time spent on an inspection in the shop can be necessary to determine whether or not a vehicle is safe. As autonomous vehicles inch closer to roadways, Redding fears that the vehicles may not be treated the same as other vehicles.
“We believe it’s important, as we move to more autonomous vehicles in the future, that somebody has to look at these cars,” Redding says. “Those cars should have to go into an independent shop bay at some point for someone to look at.”
Although autonomous vehicles drive the cars themselves, they face the same day-to-day risks that drivers experience on the roads today.
“We go out, we take the car to work, or take it to a sporting event and we don’t worry about it,” Redding says. “That car can go through a stop sign, have a tire go bad like your tire today, and we believe those AVs should be inspected every year.”