The Missouri Legislature today is considering a bill that would eliminate vehicle safety inspections in our state. Currently 20 states require the inspections which are required every two years in Missouri. Opinions are fairly even across the state on whether or not the inspections are beneficial. There is fairly universal agreement however that the inspections are a hassle and for many vehicles, a waste of time and money.
The Missouri Highway Patrol is oddly quiet on the subject. I would have thought they would have been outspoken advocates for the safety inspections. Though the Patrol recognizes there are benefits to the inspections they are nonetheless not taking a public stance on the measure before the Legislature.
Most new cars are exempt for a period of time from the inspection process as well they should be. But I see too many highly questionable vehicles still on the roadways and that's why I favor retaining the inspections.
In fact, I would favor a more restrictive inspection process. If the true goal of the inspections is to remove substandard vehicles or to alert car owners to deficiencies, then let's put teeth into the process. Right now we allow a cursory examination of the tires, brakes, lights, etc. That probably catches most of the problem vehicles.
Inspectors need to ask themselves if they would allow their family to drive in the vehicle they are inspecting. That doesn't mean the process should be more expensive or more time-consuming. But too many smoke-belching cars with bald tires still roam the highways. If you haven't seen them, you're not looking.
Safety inspections are not designed to penalize the car owner who needs to make improvements to his vehicle. They are designed to assure the other motorists that a safe vehicle is sharing our streets. The time and money involved seems a fairly small price for that assurance.