Question of the Day: Should States Have Mandatory Annual Safety Inspections?
Earlier this week, we got one of those dreaded “I’m ok, but . . . ” phone calls from our daughter. A combination of completely bald tires and heavy rains led to a nasty three car pile-up. The Highway Patrol issued the offending driver a $1K fine for driving on bald tires. She claimed she knew nothing about cars—except to take her whip in for an oil change from time to time. Nobody at the shop warned her about the worn out tires. I’m all for mandatory annual safety inspections, which aren’t required in the land of the proctological emissions test (go figure). In fact, I’d like the state to check the headlights’ alignment, window tint levels and exhaust noise at the same time. In fact, a British style annual MOT requirement seems about right. The cost and hassle to our family would be significant; I’ve got six cars. But needs must. Your take?
When I lived in Michigan, the emissions test was easy to pass, even for my old clunkers. All I had to do was make sure the car had a recent tuneup; new plugs, points, and reasonably new plug wires, O2 sensor, etc. But the emissions test was a boondoggle, with lots of graft and corruption happening in the service bays. And the worst polluters, cars over 10 years old, were exempt! Does Michigan still have this?
I despise getting government involved, but one of government's functions is to establish and enforce standards. Food safety standards, "rules-of-the-road/waterways" standards, building construction, electrical, and plumbing codes, and so forth. Can you imagine if one state had decided that they wanted RED to mean "yield" and PURPLE to mean "stop"? And another state might decide that we'll all drive on the left side of the road except on Sundays when we can drive wherever we damned well pleased? We would have anarchy on the roads! Therefore, I favor a reasonable CONSISTENT, and CONSISTENTLY APPLIED safety check for cars that use the public roads. Yeah, I know. It's government we're talking about... sigh.. But I've seen it so often...it's the rusted out bumperless junker who's holding up traffic on the freeway onramp because his foot is all the way to the floor and his truck just can't GO faster. It's the guy with the busted tail light and the spare-tire-doughnut who's driving slow in the left lane. It's the woman with the sagging rear-end suspension and opaque-white plastic sheets taped over her broken driver-side window who's stalled out in the middle three-lane traffic. I'm quite convinced that a lot of unfit cars (often driven by equally unfit drivers) cause accidents. Maybe they're not "IN" the accident, but they contribute to them, nonetheless. Calling inspections and repair a "tax on the poor" and using that as a reason for this continuing insanity is not right; and it does not respect the safety and well being of those of us who ARE responsible. Who DO take the time to fix our own shit! This should just be common sense! Turn signals, 4-way flashers, wipers, brake lights, headlights, and tires should be in good working order. Why is this an unreasonable request? The seat belts should not be compromised. They should be properly mounted and they should work. I'm tired of having the irresponsible sue the responsible (and successfully too) because they didn't take care of themselves! The car should be reasonably well maintained so as to be roadworthy, or it shouldn't be driven on the roads used by the public. But that's not all. Other things should be verified, too. The car should be insured! Some states check this at the time of tag registration, but maybe this should be done on its own schedule, too; to prevent the (all too often) case where the tag registrant buys one month's worth of insurance, gets the tag, then drops the insurance/"forgets" to pay for Month Two. The primary driver (who may or may not be the tag holder) should also be verified to have a current driver's license, and he/she should verified to be able to read and understand English road signs (for US driving). Maybe that last one could be handled in a driver's license test...but I think too many states give that test in Spanish or other languages. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Spanish. I just don't think we have the room for bilingual road signs, and the added confusion would make driving even more dangerous than it already is. I've not been overseas, so I don't know for sure...but I wouldn't expect to be allowed to drive in Germany, China, or Japan if I couldn't read and understand the signage, so therefore, I think it's reasonable to make all US testing in English.
Florida used to safety inspections, but since I've been driving (around '85) I've only had to the emission thing. Then about 10 years ago they stop doing even that! I'm all for it - I can't tell you how many people I have nearly hit because their brake lights were OUT! Not to mention bits of bodywork falling off, mismatched bald tires, lose fitting hubcaps, broken windows covered with garbage bags... the list goes on. Don't even get me started regarding loads in pickups not being even remotely secured or the condition of small utility trailers. The laws regarding how safe a car has to be when its made are numerous (and often overkill), but keeping your car up to those standards, heck ANY standards? Nothing.