ST. GEORGE – Mandatory vehicle safety inspections in Utah may now be a thing of the past thanks to the Legislature passing a bill to repeal those inspections Wednesday.
The bill applies to noncommercial vehicles and repeals the inspections as a requirement for annual vehicle registration. The added dollar will be applied to the Utah Highway Patrol.
2017’s House Bill 265, “Safety Inspections Amendments,” sponsored by Rep. Dan McKay, R-Riverton, and Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, passed the Senate Wednesday with a 19-6 vote and the House Thursday in a 54-17 vote.
The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for consideration.
While being presented on the Senate floor Wednesday, Henderson said Utah was one of 16 states that still requires vehicle safety inspections. None of the states that did away with the inspections saw an increase in accidents due to unsafe vehicles, she said.
“Just because we don’t mandate something doesn’t mean people don’t do it,” Henderson said, adding that people still change their oil, for example. “We want to keep our cars in good working order. We want to be safe.”
According to the fiscal note attached to the bill, repeal of the mandatory vehicle inspections is anticipated to save Utah taxpayers $15 million annually. Conversely, vehicle inspection stations will experience a loss of revenue equal to that amount.
“The statistics from all of the states that have revoked and done away with these mandatory inspection systems, the statistics are out,” Sen. James Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said Wednesday. “There is no safety increase for the states that have this. It’s like a remnant of some giant bureaucracy that doesn’t do anything.”
The mandatory safety inspections can also be an undue burden on low-income families who drive older vehicles, Dabakis said. The inspections can have relatively little affect on safety while wreaking havoc on budgets, he said.
Still, even new cars can have recall issues, Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, said. As well, the only way some people will take care of car safety issues is if they are forced to under mandatory inspections. People have a responsibility to themselves and the public to drive safe cars.
“It’s for us all,” Mayne said. “Because we’re driving an instrument of death that can do harm.”
As a part of the bill’s passage in the Legislature, lawmakers also made a 2015 seat belt law permanent. It originally was a three-year pilot program set to conclude July 1, 2018. The law allows police officers to pull someone over for not wearing a seat belt, where previously they could not.
Keith D. Squires, commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety, issued the following statement on the Department’s behalf Thursday:
Over the past couple of years our Legislature has closely examined the state’s safety inspection program. We appreciate their support throughout this process and approve of this policy by the Legislature.
I’m confident that the continued enforcement of equipment violations, along with the educational efforts of the Utah Highway Patrol all law enforcement agencies throughout the state, will help ensure that motorists keep their vehicles in safe working condition.
The safety inspection repeal goes into affect Jan. 1, 2018. Vehicle safety inspections remain mandatory until that time.
A competing bill introduced by Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, proposed that vehicles be inspected at year six, in addition to inspections at years four, eight and 10, and every year thereafter. Ipson’s bill passed a Senate committee Jan. 26 and has been sitting in the Senate proper since Monday.
Each of Southern Utah’s senators and representatives voted in favor of repealing the noncommercial vehicle safety inspections.
St. George News reporter Joseph Witham contributed to this article.
- Read the bill: 2017 HB 265 Safety Inspection Amendments, 3rd Substitute
- Contact legislators:
- Bill sponsor: Rep. Daniel McCay | Co-sponsor: Sen. Deidre Henderson
- 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.
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