The State House Transportation Committee has a bill that would repeal the requirement that vehicles registered in North Carolina have an annual safety inspection.
Called House Bill 59, the bill would still require vehicle emissions inspections.
Currently, all vehicles registered in N.C. are required to have an annual safety inspection except those vehicles that are 35 years or older. An emissions inspection is required in 48 of the 100 counties that make up N.C., according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The proposed bill states:
“An act to repeal the requirement that motor vehicles registered in this state have an annual safety inspection, to eliminate the requirement that window tinting be inspected at an inspection station by a licensed safety inspector, to eliminate the affirmative defense to an unsafe tire charge, to eliminate the requirement that a vehicle be subject to a safety inspection before a charge for tinted windows may be made, to develop and implement a management improvement plan for the motor vehicle emissions inspection program administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles … .”
The emissions inspection would still consist of a visual inspection of the vehicle’s emissions control devices and the implementation of the on-board diagnostic, OBD, equipment.
“To pass an emissions inspection a vehicle must pass both the visual inspection and the OBD analysis,” the bill says.
According to the bill, if the vehicle fails the emissions inspection, the owner will have 60 days to have the car reinspected.
The bill was filed on Jan. 31 and stems from a report submitted by the Program Evaluation Division of the N.C. General Assembly.
The report, which was completed in 2008, was called the “Doubtful Return on the Public’s $141 Million Investment in Poor Managed Vehicle Inspection Programs Summary.” The report looked at the effectiveness of the DMV, safety inspections and emissions inspections.
A summary of the initial report said that, “North Carolinians spend $141 million annually on inspections. The report found no evidence that the safety inspection program was effective; it was not possible to determine how much vehicle emissions inspections contributed to the improvement of overall air quality; and program oversight by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was inadequate.”
In the report, and repeated in the summary, solutions were given by the Division on how to fix the potential problems found, including eliminating the safety inspection program. The report said, if the General Assembly chose to eliminate safety inspections, the state would lose $2 million in fees, free 38 percent of all registered vehicles from inspection requirements and put a small percentage of inspection stations — those whose primary business is inspections — out of business. But, by repealing the inspection requirement, North Carolinians would save $33 million in annual inspection costs.
A separate summary of that initial report was completed in March 2012 and called “A Three-Year Emissions Inspection Exemption Would Save North Carolina Motorists $9.6 Million.” The summary showed the impact of the emissions levels and air quality under two conditions. The study, which was conducted by the DMV and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources’ Division of Air Quality in 2011, found that exempting vehicles of the three newest model years would not violate the federal air quality standards and save North Carolinians $9.6 million annually. But, eliminating the emissions inspection program all together would increase pollutants to more than 80,000 tons per year.
The Program Evaluation Division assists the N.C. General Assembly in overseeing government functions.
The bill was scheduled to be heard Tuesday in Raleigh, but the meeting of the House Transportation Committee was canceled. A hearing on the bill has not yet been rescheduled.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.