(WJHL)- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget calls for the elimination of annual vehicle inspections.
Northam says dozens of states, including Tennessee, don’t have this mandate and there’s no evidence that it improves highway safety.
Inspections currently cost $20 per driver per year. The governor says the move will save Virginians about $150 million annually.
A local police chief and mechanic told News Channel 11 ending the inspections could come at a much greater cost.
“Why are we eliminating things that make us safer,” said Abingdon Police Chief Tony Sullivan. “There’s not one piece of data or one study that’s going to show that we need to inspect or we don’t. They don’t measure effectiveness in that way but just because somebody else isn’t doing it is not a reason for us to stop.”
According to Virginia State Police, more than 8.2 million vehicles were inspected in 2018. About 20 percent, or 1.6 million vehicles, had a defect of some sort.
A critical safety issue was discovered in more than 1 million vehicles, meaning they had to be repaired on the spot.
There are more than 60 steps in the state test but common problems include steering, emissions, breaks, headlights and tires.
“Crashes are largely attributed to tires without proper tire depth,” said Sullivan.
“If you don’t have to check it, a lot of people won’t check anything,” said Don Emmert, owner of Autocare Tires & Services, one of the certified inspection cites in Bristol, Virginia.
Emmert said scrapping inspections could have an impact on the auto repair industry.
He said these tests make up about 10 to 15 percent of his business annually and additional maintenance resulting from those checks accounts for an even larger cut.
“We do about 300 [inspections] a month. It’s going to hurt of course but we have to deal with what we got,” Emmert said.
The governor’s budget is still subject to change. The General Assembly will deliberate this and other proposals beginning later this month.
Northam’s budget also recommends increasing the gas tax by 12 cents over the next three years to pay for road improvements and transportation needs across the Commonwealth.