AUSTIN, Texas — For some Texas drivers, getting an annual vehicle inspection can be a dreadful experience.
Lawmakers have attempted – and failed – to eliminate the state's vehicle inspection program several times. And they're not giving up.
During the 2019 legislative session, several lawmakers filed bills to do just that. But so far, they haven't been passed by their respective chambers.
Terry Sabin, the owner of Terry's Burnet Rd. Inspection on Jim Higg Avenue, worries what would happen if the program was removed.
"If they were to do away with this program, it would take a couple of years to see it. But you would see a change in the vehicles on the road," Sabin said. "You're going to see a lot more broken taillights, lights not working."
A study released in 2018 by the Texas Department of Safety demonstrates the importance of the vehicle inspection program.
Some key findings from that study were:
- Average crash costs related to vehicles with defects (vehicle elements that would have failed a program inspection) are more than $2 billion per year.
- Crashes involving vehicles with defects are twice as likely to result in a fatality.
- The most prevalent type of defect related to fatal crashes is slick or defective tires.
- Inspection station owners would lose net revenue of over $131 million per year.
- Texas would lose about $150 million per year in revenue.
- Vehicle owners would save $307 million per year.
- Nearly 70% of the survey respondents said they either "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" the program improves highway safety.
"If the Inspection Program were discontinued, stations in safety-only counties (with no emissions testing, which brings in emissions fees) may face closure," according to the study.
Although Travis and Williamson counties require emissions testing, Sabin fears the fees the shops earn from those tests won't be enough to sustain them.
"All the automotive shops, whether they do inspections or not, will feel it just because they're not going to get the repairs that they were getting, the repairs that are needed to be done to pass the inspection," he said.
Greg Cole, the chairman of the Texas State Inspection Association, told KVUE he thinks the program is worth keeping for the tire checks alone.
"It's not relevant to you until you're in the accident or somebody in your family is in the accident that's caused by somebody else not taking care of their car," Cole said.
In previous sessions, lawmakers have argued vehicle inspections don't make the roads safer and are just another tax.
Cole said his association would testify if the bills move forward.
"Until the legislature is over, we're always concerned. There can be amendments. It doesn't just have to be a bill. There are a lot of things that can happen even after some of these deadlines," he said.