SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would allow Utah to dump its vehicle safety inspection requirements was endorsed Thursday by the Utah House.
HB265 would still require safety inspections for commercial vehicles, but Utah drivers would be able to renew registration on passenger vehicles — new and old — without the currently required safety inspection certificate.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, told his fellow lawmakers about a time when he wasn't able to renew his registration because a license plate bulb had burned out.
"I know it saved my life — and yours," he joked.
McCay said studies have shown that a vast majority of fatalities on the road are attributed to driver error, impaired driving or weather conditions, not because a vehicle didn't pass a safety inspection.
To other lawmakers, HB265 was no lighthearted matter.
Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, who is also a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, said he recently responded to a fatal car crash in Sardine Canyon, where the driver had lost control, slammed into a wall and rolled when his brakes failed.
As part of the investigation into the crash, Perry said troopers discovered the driver had purchased the vehicle in Idaho, where safety inspections aren't required, before moving to Utah. The driver died in the crash before the vehicle had been inspected under Utah law, he said.
"These safety inspections save lives," Perry said. "I know what I deal with. I know what I see out there."
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, also opposed the bill, telling of how his family tends to have extraordinary bad luck with getting involved in crashes with motorists who drive with bald tires or other safety hazards.
"There is a certain percentage of our population that will drive the car until the brakes fall off, the muffler falls off and the tires fall off," Dunnigan said.
But McCay pointed out that only 16 states in the U.S. still require safety inspections, noting that newer car technology is resulting in increased safety.
He added that the repeal of Utah's inspection requirement would put an estimated $25 million back into Utahns' pockets, according to legislative analysts.
"Many will fix their car instead of pay for an unnecessary fee," McCay said.
Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, spoke in favor of the bill, saying he believes the inspection requirement is "a little bit of government overreach."
"This is really a tax," he said. "We have an opportunity here today to repeal a tax."
The House voted 45-9 to pass the bill. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.