Auto Blog

Safety checks unpopular with locals

After my recent column exploring vehicle safety inspections, many readers “voiced” opinions on the topic via email.  The tally of those comments revealed 70% of the responders saying “no” to mandatory checks, 20% thinking “maybe” and only 10% in favor of them.

In support of safety checks, V.K., who has had experience in Virginia with them, wrote, “As far as safety and emissions were concerned I thought it all worth it. Too many drivers today can’t be bothered to do an occasional walk around to check lights, tires and general condition, and it does show up on the roads. As our population, people and vehicles increase, so do the obvious problems.”

He acknowledged the perceived negatives, however, adding reasons for resistance, “You know, government interference, auto companies trying to keep older vehicles off the road to facilitate sales, etc.”

A reasoned response from S.L., reflecting a “maybe,” expressed, “I wouldn’t oppose vehicle safety checks if a study confirmed a significant statistical impact of accidents caused or not prevented by malfunctioning vehicles.”

The negative attitude toward mandatory inspections was more highly represented.  Comments from J.M. typified the resistance, opining, “The police should be checking for defective vehicles.  We do not need another government agency.  Use the resources available!!”

Like V.K. said, people tend to resist government “interference,” and as J.M. stated, the search for safety violations should be left to the police force.

For example, a different J.M. relayed a procedure from his past, recalling, “Years ago, it was common practice for the police to stop a vehicle that had an ‘obvious safety or structural defect.’  The usual result was a warning ticket [correction notice]. For drivers that were legal, the warning, time lost, and embarrassment was enough motivation to correct the problem. For drivers not legal, operating a car with a visible defect was an open invitation to any cop that passed their way, and that was their motivation to correct the vehicle problem. I’m sure there must be a law on the books that require the operator to make sure the vehicle he is driving is properly licensed and meets safety standards. Let the officers deal with it, and these ‘defects’ will begin to go away.” Yes, those laws still exist.

D.M. doesn’t like the sound of inspections, and added a “pet” neglected item of her own, writing, “Light bulbs burn out, cars hit things, rocks hit windows, tires go flat and you need to use the spare, someone breaks the car window, it’s 22 degrees and I need to go to work. Most people can’t fix things with in a day of something happening or know a light bulb isn’t working with in 1 minute of failure. Most get them fixed. Poor windshield wipers probably cause more problems than all of the items listed but a yearly inspection won’t detect them. A yearly inspection will change very little but will increase time and money for the car owner.”

Finally, an anecdote from N.N. solidified his opinion of safety checks, explaining, “50 years ago, I was attending a study class for Conoco Oil (Salt Lake). When I left the class, I was at a stop light with my Chev Convertible. I was rear ended by a person with failed brakes and the funny thing was, he had JUST left Utah’s inspection site with a clear bill of car health.”

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.

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