Don’t scrap inspection program

Published 8:02 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2020

To the editor:

We don’t understand Gov. Ralph Northam’s motivation to end Virginia’s Vehicle Safety Inspection Program.

While the governor indicates there is no research distinguishing the benefits of a vehicle safety program, our research appears to present the opposite.

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In Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina, highway fatalities increased after they abolished safety inspection programs. South Carolina is now considering reinstituting the program, noting, “Since the Palmetto State eliminated the mandate for vehicles to undergo yearly safety inspections in 1995, the state has consistently ranked in the upper tier of fatal car crashes each year.”

In 2018, close to 20 percent of the inspected vehicles — more than 1,634,700 — failed inspections. How many of those would be on the roads today? How many lives are saved when these vehicles are prohibited from being on the road unless repaired?

The insurance industry as a whole supports a wide range of safety measures that are good for the driving public.

An independent study at the University of Texas-Austin states that vehicles with safety defects are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. This study, and one by Carnegie-Mellon University, conclude highway safety is impacted by not having a safety inspection program.

Is getting your vehicle inspected an imposition? Sure. That said, only .01 percent of 2018 inspections resulted in a complaint being filed — just 822 out of 8,209,716 inspections.

We would argue that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring vehicles on the road are safe to drive. It’s precisely why this program receives oversight from the Virginia State Police. Abolishing it would require significant increases in the budgets of the State Police, local police and fire departments, EMS and, as the statistics show, the local mortuary.

A successful program in Virginia that keeps nearly 2 million unsafe cars off the road should be applauded, not scrapped.

Steve Akridge

Executive Director, Virginia Automotive Association

Bob Bradshaw

President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia

Ron Harrell

Legislative Chair, Virginia Gasoline Marketers Council