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Bill would eliminate vehicle safety inspections

Commuters drive along 600 South in the rain in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011.
Commuters drive along 600 South in the rain in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Vehicle safety inspections would be a thing of the past if one state lawmaker has his way.

Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork, is proposing to eliminate the program for passenger vehicles because he says it doesn't do anything to make Utah roads safer.

"If you look at the trends, we're having less deaths on the roads," he said. "I don't think we're getting any return off this program."

The Utah Department of Public Safety, which administers the program through the Utah Highway Patrol, said eliminating inspections would undermine its role to keep the road safe.

"It's a very integral part of why we have a safety program," said Dwayne Baird, DPS spokesman. "We believe it is imperative that we keep and maintain vehicles on the road that are safe to drive."

Drivers, not cars, pose the risks, Dougall said.

Baird said it's true that drivers cause hazards, but so do drivers whose vehicles might have faulty brakes or bald tires.

The program inspects 1.8 million cars a year, which Baird said means a lot of components are being checked according to strict requirements.

Dougall said he'd rather use the money in the inspection program to put six more Utah Highway Patrol troopers on the streets. "Getting more troopers on the road is a more effective use of those dollars than overseeing this program," he said.

But Baird said putting a few more troopers on the highway would have a minimal impact compared to what the safety inspection program provides motorists.

In doing away with safety inspections, Dougall's HB298 would raise the annual vehicle registration fee from $41 to $42.50 to offset the loss of a $2 state charge on each inspection, of which the Utah Department of Transportation gets $1.25 and UHP gets 75 cents.

Under the proposal, UDOT would get 90 cents and UHP 60 cents of the $1.50 registration fee increase.

Utah is the only western state and one of only 17 states nationwide that require vehicle safety inspections, he said.

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