Lawmaker petitions for change in safety check requirements

Do safety checks help keep our roads safe? A state senator worries that many drivers can’t afford to keep their older cars on the road if it means having to pass a safety inspection.

That’s why State Senator Maile Shimabukuro started a petition to ask if the checks should be done away with or at least changed. Nearly 3,000 people have already signed it.

Drivers are currently required to get a safety check once a year for most vehicles and are meant to make sure vehicles on our roads are safe to drive.

Shimabukuro tells us 34 states have already dropped safety check requirements.

We wanted to know what kinds of issues are most often found in safety checks and see if the state is open to making a change.

“We do fix a lot of cars,” said Frank Young of K & Y Auto Service, “especially when it comes to headlights, brake lights, taillights and tires.” Young showed us a tire that was worn nearly all the way through, just one of the 30 items he inspects on every car that comes in to get the sticker that puts them back on the road.

When asked what are some of the things he sees in safety checks that might otherwise go unnoticed, Young says “suspension, people have dim lights, they don’t know they don’t have brake lights, they have bad (wheel) alignment and it’s very worn on the inside, which is ready for an accident or death.”

The most common thing caught in vehicle inspections is a lack of registration, with over 160,000 people being caught in 2015. After that, it’s lack of insurance with just over 18,000 people, and then bad tires at 10,500.

So how does the transportation department feel about possibly doing away with safety checks? The response was that “defective cars can increase conflict points on the highway and jeopardize safety, as such, the department does not support removal of the … program.”

While Young says many of his customers support safety checks, the program could use some work. “It doesn’t have to be complex,” he said. “I’ve been doing safety checks for more than 40 years, and from the inception of this program until now, it’s gotten very difficult. That’s why a lot of people don’t want to be in the safety check business.”

As for State Senator Shimabukuro, who introduced the petition, she says she’s open to a compromise and respects the state’s position regarding safety checks. “I will explore whether any modifications to the process can be made to balance both safety and convenience, with the goal of creating an improved system,” she said.

Right now, a safety check costs $20. Click here to find out what the requirements are to pass a safety inspection.

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