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Mandatory vehicle safety inspections may return to Utah

Posted at 3:57 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 19:09:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne is considering a bill to reinstate mandatory vehicle safety inspections — at least for tires and brakes.

"I’ve had people reach out to me and say we need to do something. People need to take care of their vehicles, they are a weapon and if they’re not taken care of...," she said in an interview with FOX 13.

Sen. Mayne, D-West Valley City, recently asked the Utah Highway Patrol to present data to the Utah State Legislature's Transportation Interim Committee about crashes and vehicle safety since lawmakers eliminated the inspection requirement for personal vehicles in 2017 (emissions inspections remain). But the UHP reported no significant jump in crashes as a result of faulty equipment.

"We haven’t measured a significant difference since the change," said UHP Col. Mike Rapich.

The data presented by the UHP found the number of safety inspections plummeted from nearly 1.9 million in 2017 to 272,085 in 2018; 174,327 in 2019; and 166,328 in 2020.

Of the accidents UHP troopers investigated, they noted a slight increase where faulty equipment was documented as a contributor in a crash. It was 1,237 in 2017, then increased to 1,252 in 2018; 1,358 in 2019; and 1,188 crashes in 2020.

Tires and brakes were the biggest identified problems, Col. Rapich said.

"They’re the most represented, especially in weather-related accidents, probably most likely to have an impact on a crash," he told the committee.

Tires and brakes were also the biggest contributors in fatal crashes that the UHP found, but troopers cautioned that may not be the cause of the crash itself. The agency also saw a decline in 2020 because fewer vehicles were on the road in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers on the transportation committee said the lack of a surge in crashes shows that eliminating mandatory vehicle safety inspections was fine.

"I think that what you’re saying is this still has the potential to be a problem, but we’re not seeing catastrophic change because of the policy shift," said Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi.

"I think that’s a good assessment," replied Col. Rapich, who emphasized they still want to see safe vehicles, safe drivers and safe roads.

Sen. Mayne said she still was looking to proceed with some kind of legislation to address the issue of tires and brakes.

"Those are the two items that can kill," she said. "And if you’re going to drive, you need to have a responsible vehicle to drive on the roads."