Recalls Cited in Support of Vehicle Safety Inspection Programs

Pennsylvania legislature considers
bill requiring consumer notice.

State vehicle safety inspection programs have seen good times and bad since the Highway Safety Act of 1966. This law mandated that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) prescribe uniform standards for mandatory state highway safety programs. If states did not comply, it would mean the loss of federal highway dollars for the state. One of the standards established by DOT was a requirement that states conduct periodic motor vehicle inspections.

By 1975, 31 states and the District of Columbia had periodic inspection programs. Congress later passed the Highway Safety Act of 1976, which revoked the DOT’s authority to withhold highway funds and provided that state safety programs could be approved without meeting all of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standards. At this point, 10 states repealed their inspection programs.

After the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, vehicle safety inspection programs were at times lumped into the same negative analyses as emissions inspection and maintenance programs (I/M). I/M programs, new at the time, had significant consumer issues and were profiled negatively in the media.

In recent years, additional states such as New Jersey, Mississippi and the District of Columbia terminated their programs. Several of these terminations were for financial reasons, while others were because the safety value of the programs was placed in question.

Two states with successful inspection programs, Pennsylvania and Missouri, produced reports correlating accidents, injuries and deaths in states requiring vehicle safety inspection programs with states that do not have inspection programs. These reports clearly stated the importance of vehicle safety inspection.

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) held a webinar this fall on periodic motor vehicle safety inspection (PMVI) programs and new safety technologies. The webinar highlighted the value of these programs and how they continue to protect consumers, as well as provided important information for shop owners, managers and anyone involved in offering vehicle repair services to consumers.

Participants heard from vehicle safety experts, industry representatives, vehicle repairers and ASA leaders who shared their views on PMVI programs.

Doug Campbell, president of the Automotive Safety Council

Madeleine Dean, Pennsylvania state representative

Taylor Hill, Larson’s Service in Peabody, Mass.

Dean, along with 11 cosponsors recently introduced House Bill (HB) 2297, which requires shops in Pennsylvania, to provide notice of a recall to vehicle owners at the time of the safety inspection. HB 2297 adds new language to current law, stating in section 2, titled “Notice of safety recall upon inspection”:

“(a) Safety recall. Upon conducting a vehicle inspection, an inspection official shall use the vehicle identification number of the inspected vehicle to determine whether the vehicle is subject to a safety recall. If the vehicle is subject to a safety recall, the inspection official shall provide notice of the safety recall to the owner or driver of the vehicle.

“(b) Certificate of inspection. An inspection official may not refuse to issue a certificate of inspection under section 4727 (relating to issuance of certificate of inspection) to the owner or driver of an inspected vehicle due to a safety recall if the inspected vehicle otherwise meets the inspection criteria required under this chapter.

“(c) Definition. As used in this section, the term ‘safety recall’ means a determination by a manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that a vehicle has a safety-related defect or does not comply with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard.”

The recall legislation was introduced late in the House’s session and will be reintroduced in 2017 by Dean. ASA supports HB 2297. Provisions of the act will take effect 60 days after passage.

Is there a need for more recall information to be made available for consumers? NHTSA reports that Takata air bags alone are in tens of millions of U.S. vehicles subject to recall due to a safety defect that may cause their inflators to explode and result in serious injuries or deaths. Although NHTSA has upgraded its communication tools for recall information, there are still gaps in assuring that consumers are made aware of the many recalls involved.

ASA has prioritized vehicle safety inspection programs as part of its policy agenda. This includes promoting the value of mandatory vehicle safety inspection, protecting current programs, development of new programs and encouraging the federal government to be more involved in promoting mandatory vehicle safety inspection.

Providing information to consumers about recalls is just one more reason to support vehicle safety inspection. To learn more about periodic motor vehicle inspection, go to ASA’s legislative website