SALT LAKE CITY — A bill eliminating mandatory vehicle safety inspections passed the Senate on Wednesday, but not before provisions were added to increase registration fees by $1 and make not wearing a seat belt a permanent primary offense.
The changes made in the Senate to HB265, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, must be approved by the House.
The Senate sponsor of the bill, Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, said only 16 states currently require safety inspections. She said none of the states that have done away with the requirement saw increased accidents due to unsafe vehicles.
"Just because we don’t mandate something doesn’t mean people don’t do it," Henderson told the Senate, citing oil changes as an example. "We want to keep our cars in good working order. We want to be safe."
Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, said safety inspections are a responsiblity drivers have to the public. She said even newer vehicles have recall issues and suggested some older cars shouldn't even be on the road.
"It's for us all because we’re driving an instrument of death," Mayne said.
Henderson said what makes a difference in safety on the streets is avoiding drinking, texting and other impairments while driving and wearing seat belts. Utah's law making not wearing a seat belt a primary offense was due to sunset next year.
Senate Minority Assistant Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, praised the language in the bill removing the sunset date for the seat belt law. She said she had spent years trying to get a seat belt law passed and feared it would be tough to renew.
Not wearing seat belts "is the No. 1 reason people die on our roads," Escamilla said, calling the bill the "ultimate win-win."
Henderson said the new provisions were a compromise to win support for the bill. The added $1 to vehicle registration fees will be used to pay for more Utah Highway Patrol troopers.