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[an error occurred while processing this directive]   Legislative Feature

I/M and Safety Forum Encourages Industry Activism

Posted 12/10/2001
By Robert L. Redding, Jr.

More than 150 attendees participated in the second annual Forum on the Future of I/M and Safety Inspections. Held prior to ASA's CARS meeting in November, the annual event provides the industry an opportunity to develop an educated coalition to address I.M and safety inspection issues.

The Automotive Service Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) held their second annual Forum on the Future of I/M and Safety Inspection at ASA's Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) meeting in November in Las Vegas.

ASA and AAMVA met two years ago to discuss how the automotive aftermarket might become more engaged in the safety and emissions policy debate. Both groups agreed that a national forum with education and opportunity for dialogue components would be of great value.

The first forum had 110 participants and this year the event recorded more than 150 attendees. During the morning sessions, participants heard from experts in both safety and emissions inspection and maintenance.

Panelists for the safety session included Charlie Elder, moderator and ASA Mechanical Division Operations Committee member; Doug Woolverton, Hunter Engineering; Fred Loney, District of Columbia director of Emissions/Safety Testing; Dan Frohlich, ASA board chairman-elect; Lothar Geilen, Systech International; and Lori Cohen, AAMVA.

Emissions panelists were John Francis Jr., moderator and ASA Mechanical Division Operations Committee member; Buddy Polovick, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Chuck Rhodes, Wisconsin Public Safety Department; Rusty Savignac, Paxton Garage, Mark Hall, Vetronix; and Dr. Jerry Gallagher, J. Gallagher and Associates.

ASA has been concerned about the direction of both safety and emissions programs for a number of years. The forum provides the industry an opportunity to develop an educated coalition to improve upon the number of safety programs nationally as well as support emissions programs as they mature or move into new geographic areas.

As for safety, it was evident the programs are not expanding and remain threatened across the country. At present there are 19 states with safety inspection programs. Many of these are attacked each year in their state legislatures. ASA provided the audience summaries of these state programs. Many of the participants from states without programs were seeking suggested strategies for implementing new programs in their home states.

The emissions programs are moving into a new era, OBD II. Many issues were discussed during the session but it is clear that inspection programs have a broad base of support. With the U.S. Supreme Court's validation of the EPA's ozone and particulate matter regulation, many participants believe there are many opportunities to improve upon current programs, both in quality and in their geographical scope.

The emissions focus group concluded:

  • Relative to traditional inspection and maintenance (I/M) tests, OBD II inspections are expected to be less expensive and quicker to perform.
  • Maintenance based on current data is expected to cost about the same as traditional I/M.
  • Diagnosis and repair of OBD II vehicles will require significant investment in scan tools and training for shops.
  • There is a need for public outreach for the motoring public and policymakers to educate them about how the program works, costs, benefits, etc. The EPA is already working with the states to help them with generic outreach materials.
  • States should be encouraged to have uniform testing procedures. EPA implementation guidance includes generic test procedures for OBD II testing.
  • The practice of disconnecting batteries to clear OBD II codes before inspection is considered a minor problem.
  • Diesel OBD II inspections should be included in future policy discussions.
  • OBD II will not eliminate tailpipe/dyno testing. Tailpipe testing will be needed for pre-1996 model year vehicles for many years to come.
  • I/M is no longer limited to non-attainment areas. OBD II is nationwide starting with the 1996 model year. All motorists and repair facilities will be affected.
  • Some vehicles sold or intended to be sold in Canada for 1996-97 are not fully OBD II compliant and may present a special problem for OBD testing. The EPA is working with states to resolve this issue.

Safety participants developed the following conclusions:

  • A study of state safety I/M programs and their impact on accidents, injuries and deaths is needed. A committee will determine the best strategy for such an initiative in the next few months. Using states, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or research institutions were suggested avenues for a study.
  • It was determined that strategic alliances to advance state safety I/M programs are needed. The group will pursue new partners for this initiative.
  • Consumers need to be better educated about the value of safety programs. An outreach initiative is a necessity.
  • A better system of inspection data is necessary at the state, national and international levels.
  • The aftermarket needs to be better informed as to the economic impact of safety I/M.

Committees will be appointed for both issue areas in order to pursue objectives from the forum. Reports from these two committees will be presented at the next I/M and Safety Forum in 2002.

ASA is proud to host this event and will continue to pursue initiatives that advance the plight of safety and emissions I/M.

Bob Redding [an error occurred while processing this directive]

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