By Bill Carrico
Carrico represents the 40th Senate district, which stretches from Wythe County to Lee County. A Republican from Grayson County, he is retiring, and today is his last day in office.
As a retired state trooper and outgoing chairman of the Senate Transportation committee, I want to share my concerns about the proposed elimination of the motor vehicle inspection program for Virginia. These inspections ensure safe vehicles and the well-being of Virginians and all those who travel on our roads and highways.
In my nearly 16-year career with the Virginia State Police, I worked more than 20 fatal accidents. I have seen firsthand how faulty equipment on vehicles and trucks contribute to loss of life. We must reject Gov. Northam’s proposal to eliminate annual motor vehicle inspections as part of the fiscal year 2020-2022 budget.
It is important to understand that even if a $20 annual inspection is eliminated in the name of helping Virginians save money, the legal requirement to maintain a safe vehicle will remain. This budget proposal gives citizens the false sense that they cannot be charged with equipment violations. In fact, citizens will end up paying far more in tickets, repairs, and labor time. Some will also find themselves liable in legal cases where their lack of vehicle maintenance results in harm to others due to the faulty equipment that was not maintained properly.
Look at state police inspection statistics for 2018.
n 8.2 million vehicles inspected
n1,634,740 vehicles failed inspection
n 20% of vehicles (1 out of 5) submitted for inspection were found to have critical safety defects requiring repair.
I spent my career in counties bordering states without inspection programs. I saw vehicles from these neighboring localities that should not have been allowed on Virginia roads and highways.
The number of vehicle component failures increases steadily after 15,000 miles, which amounts to about a year and a half of driving a new car. Most people pay no attention to the wear and tear on their vehicle, especially when it comes to critical components like tire treads and brakes. If this proposal passes, consumers will push off costly maintenance until the vehicle becomes a problem — or they will fail to make the repair, and the vehicle will cause harm. As an example, brakes worn down to the indicator (which creates a squealing sound) can result in cracked rotors (break disks on the wheel). This will cost the owner far more than a set of brakes — and way more than a $20 inspection that could have uncovered the issue sooner.
The benefit of having a yearly inspection far outweighs the cost of repairs and will help save lives on an already congested highway system. The inspection system gives everyone peace of mind that vehicles have had a professional mechanic ensure the safe operation of a vehicle. I encourage Gov. Northam to keep the inspection requirement.
On a final note, as an outgoing senator, I sincerely appreciate the citizens of the 40th District trusting me all these years to represent their interests. It has been an honor, and I look forward to continuing to serve our community as a proud citizen.