The days when Utahns were required to get their cars checked once a year are over. As we rang in the beginning of the year 2018, a bill passed by Utah legislature took effect, putting an end to annual mandatory vehicle safety inspections.
There were few protests. At the time, the change brought out little more emotion, in most, than a sigh of relief that one more chore was being scratched off our to-do-lists.
But one year later, a tweet from Sen. Todd Weiler has KSL Newsradio’s Debbie Dujanovic asking if we made a mistake. Today, on the Dave & Dujanovic show, she asked: “Is it time to bring safety inspections back?”
Sen. Todd Weiler’s tweet
Last night, Sen. Todd Weiler posted two pictures on his Twitter account, one of a car with a smashed trunk and the other of a Toyota with its bumper held on with a bungee cord.
“Spotted both of these beauties in the past five minutes,” Weiler wrote as his caption. “Apparently no one fixes their cars anymore. Just get a bungee!”
Weiler has since deleted both the tweet and the photo, but not before it caught the attention of Debbie Dujanovic, who invited Weiler on the show to talk about his tweet and whether it was proof that repealing safety inspections had been a mistake.
The pictures worried Dujanovic, she says, because of a recent statement from the Utah Highway Patrol saying that worn-down, bald tries had caused two crashes in a single week, one of which took the life of 39-year-old Ryan Harvey.
On I-15 NB at 7400 S we have a multi-car crash blocking 4 lanes caused by a truck with bald tires! Fortunately, there are no injuries. However, that wasn’t the case the other day when a truck with bald tires lost control on US Highway 40 and took the life of an innocent person. pic.twitter.com/DTwl8gkpxb
— Utah Highway Patrol (@UTHighwayPatrol) January 12, 2019
Mandatory vehicle safety inspections, Dujanovic says, helped keep dangerous cars like the ones that caused those accidents and the ones in Weiler’s pictures from getting on the road. But without inspections, she believes that something like this could happen to anybody.
“I had a tire blow-out due to a bald tire,” she admitted. “I don’t think it’s because I’m not into car safety and keeping our roads safe, it’s because I just didn’t realize our tires were bald. And that’s why I like the idea of bringing back a safety inspection. It lets me know: ‘Hey! You need new tires, lady! Get new tires!’”
Weiler, however, sees things a bit differently, even though he took Dujanovic’s side when the bill was originally passed through the Senate.
“I was on your side of this debate. I voted against repealing safety inspections,” Weiler said when he appeared on the Dave & Dujanovic show. He says that he’s since changed his opinion, though, because he’s learned that “the data is against both of us.”
When states do away with safety inspections, Weiler says, there is no significant change in road safety. On average, when the mandatory vehicle safety inspections are in effect, 3 percent of accidents are caused by equipment failure. When they’re removed, that number stays put at 3 percent.
“It’s still illegal to drive with bald tires. It’s still illegal to drive with a broken windshield, so we haven’t repealed those underlining laws,” Sen. Weiler says. “What we’ve said is: ‘You don’t have to go to the government once a year and get a Mother-may-I.’”
Another concern, Weiler says, was that some mechanics were using the safety inspections as a way to earn extra money by pushing customers into unnecessary repairs.
“Consumers like me who kind of have two left thumbs, we don’t know if something’s really wrong with our cars,” he says. “Some people were using those safety inspections just to pad their pockets.”
At the end of the day, Weiler just doesn’t believe the safety inspections were worth the burden.
“We were forcing everyone in the state to go get a safety inspection every single year,” Weiler says, “and the data just wasn’t showing that that was moving the needle of preventing accidents.”
More to the story
Who do you agree with? Debbie Dujanovic or Sen. Todd Weiler?
KSL Newsradio’s listeners called and texted into the show to share their thoughts on mandatory vehicle safety inspections – and their stories about the most disastrous vehicles they’ve seen on the road.
You can hear every moment of it on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.
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