Texas to Try Again to Abolish Annual Private Car Safety Inspection

The Texas Legislature will try again in 2019 to eliminate the requirement that passenger cars undergo an annual safety inspection, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The bill to abolish the nearly seventy year old requirement has been introduced by Sen. Bob Hall (Re-VanZandt County).  He takes the mantle from State Sen Don Huffines (R-Dallas) who spearheaded the measure in the 2017 session.  Huffines was defeated for re-election last week.

It would not abolish requirements to undergo annual emissions testing in the seven Texas counties that require it, and it would maintain the annual inspection requirement for commercial and fleet vehicles.

But Vance Ginn, an economist with the conservative-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation says the annual inspection for privately owned passenger cars has outlived its usefulness, and is essentially a hidden tax on Texans.  

"Whenever you look at the data and dive deeper into this, you realize that in Texas crashes, the dominant factor has do deal with driver malfeasence and not with the vehicle's maintenance issues," he said.

But Ginn says Texans have still paid $2.4 billion dollars in fees for annual vehicle inspections since 2005, which is in reality a tax.

"This is just another way of increasing taxes on Texans."

Texas remains an outlier in still requiring annual vehicle inspections.  Only 13 states still maintain the requirement.  In fact, four states have approved abolishing the annual safety inspection just since the 2017 Legislature tried, but failed to do so.

The AAA reported that as many as 99% of all traffic crashes have nothing whatsoever to do with the systems that are checked during the annual inspection.  It says the vast majority of crashes are due to human factors, from speeding to drunk driving to distracted driving.

It also points out that when the Texas vehicle inspection program was begun in 1951, cars were far less reliable than they are today, and the failure of parts and equipment were much more likely to be the cause of accidents.

In fact, most of the systems which are checked in the annual safety inspections are now monitored by the car's on board systems, which provide warning signals when they are malfunctioning.

Police would still have the right to pull over vehicles which are being driven with burned out headlights, tail lights, turn signals, and other systems which are now covered by the annual safety inspection.

In previous years, the auto repair lobby has fought hard against repealing the annual safety inspection regulation, but they are not expected to fight the issue this year, because the $7 the shop receives for performing the mandated inspection is no longer enough to cover the costs, so, far from being the profit center the inspections were in the past, they have become a money loser.

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