@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Bill would scrap NC vehicle safety inspections

Posted February 22, 2013 6:20 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2013 7:19 p.m. EST

— Lawmakers are making another run at eliminating the annual vehicle safety inspection requirement.

North Carolina is one of 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, to mandate the inspections, but House Bill 59 would scrap the requirement.

Some lawmakers say the move would cut back on bureaucracy and save drivers a little money. About 8 million cars and trucks are inspected each year, and the safety portion accounts for $13.60 of the $30 cost for an annual vehicle inspection, which also includes a check of the emissions system.

House Bill 59 doesn't call for eliminating the emissions test.

The House Transportation Committee is expected to debate the proposal next Tuesday, but many drivers and mechanics say they would like to keep the inspections.

"I think it's a small price to pay to make sure that people are driving vehicles that are in good working order and they're not going to create some sort of safety problem for everybody else," driver Jennipher Swanner said.

Out of about 20 cars he sees each day at Express Inspection and Service in Cary, Darren Clark said seven or eight have a safety problem. When money's tight, maintenance gets put off, he said, so the number of vehicles with problems has been on the rise in recent years.

"Gas is going up like crazy too, you know," Clark said. "Sometimes it's more important about getting to your destination than having a safe vehicle."

A similar bill was filed two years ago, and lawmakers have scaled back emissions tests in recent years to exempt newer vehicles from that requirement.

AAA Carolinas said annual inspections make North Carolina roads safer.

"In states that still have the mandated inspections, as opposed to those that don't, accidents are about 27 percent less," AAA's Jodi Woolard said.

Doing away with safety inspections could end up costing drivers more money down the road, Woolard said.

"If people are not required to get their vehicles inspected, they're going to let them go," she said. "They're prone to be in more accidents. More accidents equates to higher insurance rates, and that affects everyone who drives."