Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Car Inspection Reform

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 12:30 PM

The City Council's Public Services and Neighborhoods committee voted today to move forward on two initiatives to help make the city's car inspection process more convenient for citizens.

One removes funding for vehicle inspections from the city's 2011 operating budget and looks to privatization. The other removes mandatory inspections for vehicles four years or younger.

"We're in the ironic position of having people wait with their cars idling, which is harmful to the environment, in order to protect the environment," said council member Shea Flinn. "Newer cars have lower emissions. They should be exempt. The safety standards — it would be nice, but we're not required to do it. The county can do it through moving violations. So could we."

The city's vehicle inspection process grew out of its status as a federal non-attainment area for air quality.

During the inspections, the city also looks at 12 safety checks — including windshield wipers, brake lights, and side mirrors — but none of those are required by law. There has been talk of omitting them entirely, but they only add about a minute to the overall inspection time, and city officials don't think removing them from the process will make much difference.

"We know we have to do emissions," said councilman Bill Morrison, who proposed the resolution along with Jim Strickland. "Ultimately, this is to reduce the wait for our citizens."

The inspection stations would ultimately have to remain open for cars built before 1996. But for cars newer than that, an onboard diagnostic check could be done by private entities.

"This sends a message to the administration that we want this to become a priority," Morrison said of the measure.

Both initiatives will go before full council in two weeks.

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