Thank you chair and members of the committee. My name is Tom Mannion, I represent Hillsborough District 1 – Pelham. I’m here to introduce House Bill 646 – eliminating the vehicle inspection mandate for non-commercial vehicles.
I’ll start with a small story: a few years back I was driving up 495 and my alternator gave out. I coasted across a couple lanes of traffic and managed to pull over safely. As I awaited AAA, I looked over at my car inspection sticker – not even a month old.
These stickers do not give a force field of safety, they do not guarantee a car will make it a year without problems. What they do, however, is create headaches for the rest of us, and burden low-income families disproportionately. These families stretch car lifetimes, because they have to. When presented with a list of nitpicky problems that must be addressed to get the state-sponsored gold star, they’ll just continue to operate with a rejection sticker and eat whatever potential fines, because it’s cheaper than repairs or buying a new vehicle.
Only 14 states require annual safety inspections. 14! “Safety inspections” is also a misnomer. The Government Accountability Office published a study that showed NO correlation between vehicle crashes and inspection mandates. In fact, 94% of vehicle crashes are caused by driver error, with mechanical failure being 2%. And, like my Dodge Avenger on 495, those failures can still occur WITH an inspection sticker. So we’re inducing a burden onto drivers for no provable benefit.
Direct dollar cost components aside, there’s a time-cost as well. The stations are open during average work hours, requiring taking time off to get our permission slips. So hourly workers are not only paying the cost of the inspection, but losing out on wages for the time required to get it done.
The other arguments against inspections are from an emissions standpoint. Nature.com released a study outlining that in 2020, when most of the industrialized countries locked down production, and vast quantities of individuals were no longer commuting, the global CO2 emission levels were only slowed by, at most 7.5%. Think about how we’re still reeling from supply chain shortages, the evisceration of small businesses, rampant inflation and teasing of a global recession, and we barely moved the needle for CO2. And the EPA thinks emissions testing granite stater’s sedans is justified. They have their scary extortion threats that they’ll just keep our tax money and not pay for their highways. So we’re operating a program out of fear of Federal retribution, costing granite staters money to comply with yet another overreaching mandate from DC, and there’s enough evidence from 2020 to conclude that it doesn’t even serve the intended purpose. Over half the states don’t require emissions testing. I guess Florida doesn’t have highways or dense urban areas that the EPA claims requires annual testing.
Back to the supply chain shortages, for a moment. During the last few years, getting parts required to repair vehicles has experienced waves of difficulty. How are you supposed to bring your vehicle up to compliance when parts aren’t available? Do the police take this into account, and just look the other way? All the fear mongering about cars exploding into rusty shrapnel (or whatever the argument is) on the highway is on hold? Or are we not supposed to drive to work until the supply chain is corrected? What if I’m part of the supply chain itself and can’t legally drive to supply the parts to fix my car?
I think it’s time to join the 36 other states that do not require annual safety inspections. I urge you to vote OTP on HB646. I’ll take your questions.
Representative Tom Mannion
Hillsborough 1 – Pelham
One of the points made by opponents of the bill was that inspections would not catch my alternator problem I described in the intro. This is an argument that supports removal of the inspection, contrary to their position. If the inspections intended purpose is to catch vehicle problems that may lead to a crash, they fail in that job.