ST. GEORGE — Utah lawmakers advanced a bill seeking to repeal required vehicle safety inspections out of committee Friday with a favorable recommendation. However, two Southern Utah legislators who are members of the committee found themselves on opposite sides of the issue.
The “Safety Inspection Amendments” bill, designated HB 265 in the 2017 session and sponsored by Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, proposes to repeal requirements for certain vehicles to obtain a safety inspection certificate as a condition to registration. It advanced from the House Transportation Standing Committee with a favorable recommendation in a 9-3 roll call vote Friday.
The fiscal note for the bill by analyst Brian Wilke reports savings for individual Utahns.
“Enactment of this legislation could lead to a reduction in collective expenses of approximately $25 million annually for individuals who would no longer be required to obtain safety inspections for approximately 1.6 million vehicles and 65,000 motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles,” the fiscal note reads.
Conversely, safety inspection stations could see a collective reduction in revenues of approximately $25 million annually, according to the analysis.
A competing bill also recently advanced out of committee. Sponsored by Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, “Vehicle Safety Inspection Amendments,” designated as SB 77 1st Substitute, seeks to increase the frequency with which a motor vehicle is required to pass a safety inspection, adding a six-year inspection in addition to the current four-year, eight-year and 10-year inspections.
Ipson’s bill passed Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee – of which Ipson is a member – on Feb. 7 with a vote of 5-0, with 3 absent. Currently the bill is on the floor of the Senate waiting to be debated.
Members of the House Transportation Standing Committee met Friday to discuss McCay’s bill to repeal inspections.
“Once you’ve got government regulation in place … they make dependencies based on that regulation and make business decisions based on that regulation,” McCay said. “It is difficult to impact or make any changes to that regulation.”
McCay argued that state-mandated safety inspections originated in a time before safety became a major selling point in cars, and the market has since corrected itself by building significantly safer vehicles.
“Safety ratings is actually the No. 1 thing that consumers are looking at when they are looking to purchase a new vehicle,” McCay said. “The need to have government intervention when the market is demanding so much in safety, I submit to you is the reason for House Bill 265 and the reason to remove unnecessary obligations.”
Introducing the bill required a study to be completed examining the relationship between mechanical failure and traffic accidents.
Under the supervision of a Brigham Young University economics professor, math and economic majors Alex Hoagland and Trevor Wooley conducted the study.
“Those states with inspections, versus demographics of those states without inspections required, the proportion of traffic accidents due to car failure is exactly 3 percent on both. There is no difference,” Hoagland said.
Of all the states west of the Mississippi, only Utah and Texas require safety inspections, yet the study found surrounding states are no different when it comes to accidents resulting from car safety issues.
David Spatafore, who attended the committee meeting representing the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, said an alternative study found the death rate due to automobile accidents to be lower in Utah than all surrounding states, none of which require safety inspections.
“Utah has safer roads, we have safer cars,” Spatafore said.
Southern Utah legislators chime in
Two Southern Utah lawmakers are members of the House Transportation Standing Committee: Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, and John Westwood, R-Cedar City. Both lawmakers questioned the bill during the committee meeting.
Brooks, who worked in the car repair industry, said he observed that most safety inspection failures were of minor significance. He noted that virtually anywhere consumers obtain oil changes will also perform a 22-point inspection looking for the same faults as a mandatory safety inspection.
“My concern was cars that are over 12 to 15 years. I’m from Southern Utah, so that guy with bailing wire and duct tape, I’ve seen him going down the road,” Brooks joked while questioning Hoagland and Wooley’s study.
In response, Hoagland said the study found that safety inspections were only useful for cars dating 1970 or older.
Brooks ultimately voted in favor of advancing the bill out of committee.
In opposition was Westwood, who argued people would put off maintaining their vehicle if the yearly mandate was not in place.
He cited a study by the state of Idaho, which previously enforced safety inspections, demonstrating the effects of repealing mandatory inspections.
“The study demonstrated that just two years after the repeal of the periodic inspections, the total rate of mechanically defective or unsafe vehicles on the road had significantly increased,” Westwood said.
Westwood argued for the efficacy of safety inspections based on the Idaho case study. He voted against advancing the bill.
McCay’s bill is currently on the reading calendar for the floor of the House.
- Read the bill:
- Contact legislators:
- Bill sponsor: Daniel McCay
- 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
Email: [email protected]
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