Bill would end state vehicle inspections

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Senate measure needs another vote to move to the House.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Senate gave initial approval Thursday to a measure that would do away with safety inspections for Missouri vehicles.

The idea was added as an amendment to a bill that changes the emissions testing program in the St. Louis area.

Missouri vehicles currently must pass a safety inspection every two years before they can be relicensed by the state.

Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields said he proposed to abolish the inspections as of Jan. 1, 2007, because he's not convinced they make the roads safer. And, Shields said, he regularly hears from people who don't like them.

"Consumers just tell me they believe it's a huge pain," said Shields, R-St. Joseph.

Auto repair shops, however, say vehicle inspections are important. The Automotive Service Association said about 20 states have safety inspection programs.

"We want more states to have them," said Robert Redding, the group's Washington, D.C., representative. "Our shop owners and technicians work on these vehicles. They know when cars' windshields should be replaced, when tires are too worn, when brakes are not working as they should."

The overall bill, adopted on a voice vote after four days of debate, needs another vote to move to the House. The inspection amendment's fate there is unclear, though House Speaker Rod Jetton also thinks scrapping the program is a good idea.

He said states that don't require inspections do not appear to have any more accidents than those that do.

"The highway patrol and law enforcement are capable of seeing when cars are unsafe and when a vehicle is in bad shape and needs to be pulled over," said Jetton, R-Marble Hill. "I think we all go through a lot of hassles and troubles waiting in line, and let's be honest, we can tell when our car isn't operating right."

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