HOUSTON - Having to get a yearly safety inspection on a vehicle could soon become a thing of the past.
State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) has filed a bill to end that requirement for passenger vehicles. It’s a move he says could save Texans $150 million and 9 million hours each year.
Sen. Huffines says the federal government got rid of the nationwide requirement in 1976, and more than 34 states, including California, have gotten rid of their own requirements.
However, some business owners worry that what would be a relief on taxpayers’ wallets could hurt their wallet and drivers’ safety.
On Monday morning, inside Sticker Stop Express at Richmond and Shepherd in the Montrose area, Jason Goff received yet another passing safety inspection on his motorcycle.
“It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s also a good thing,” said Goff of the annual requirement.
His inspection is one of between 30 to 100 state-required inspections that manager Steven Wells says his business performs every single day.
“That’s bulk of what we do,” said Wells, who estimates those inspections make up around 70 percent of his business.
However, soon drivers and motorcyclists might not need that test to get their vehicle registration or renewal each year.
“We have a lot of academic studies that shows it doesn’t have anything to do with safety,” Sen. Huffines said. “We’ve got government studies.”
Sen. Huffines says significant advances in vehicle design and technology mean safety inspections are nothing more than a tax, $7 that could stay in Texans’ wallets instead of going to inspection stations.
“None of this money would come to the state,” Sen. Huffines said. “I made the bill as close as we can to revenue-neutral to the state of Texas.”
But even at shops where safety inspections aren’t a huge chunk of business, like at the Kar Hospital on Ella and 34th in the Oak Forest area, owners like Derek Lang are still watching SB 1588 closely.
“Here it’ll be about 5 percent,” said Lang, referring to how much business inspections make up. “It’s not gonna be horrible, but it’s not gonna be comfortable, either.”
However, for businesses like Wells’ where inspections make up most of the business, he worries SB 1588 could have worse consequences.
“That wouldn’t be pretty,” said Wells, calling passage of the bill “a road we’d cross when we get there. That’s what businesses do. They survive.”
Wells also says most drivers don’t check things like tires and wiper blades, and enforcing window tint laws is important for the safety of law enforcement officers.
“Most people get in their car, put gas in it, and go,” Wells said.
Jason Goff agrees these mechanics catch things he usually doesn’t.
“But then again having to do this every year, I don’t know,” Goff said. “That’s a lot of time.”
Sen. Huffines says his bill would redirect money from the old program into a new initiative at DPS to hire and train troopers to detect vehicles that aren’t being operated safely.
He also says the bill does not change the annual emissions testing requirements in 17 counties in Texas, including Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, and Galveston.
SB 1588 is co-sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), and Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston).