On Thursday, the Texas Senate voted to pass a bill that would eliminate the need for safety inspections for civilian vehicles. The bill will now go to the Texas House for consideration.
Senate Bill 1588 was introduced by Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) in March, and passed through the Texas Senate with bipartisan support in a 27 to 4 vote.
“You’ve got 34 states, basically, that don’t have it,” Huffines told The Dallas Morning News in April. “The federal government quit requiring it in the 1970s. That’s kind of unusual when the federal government quits doing something that the state of Texas continues to do, but we have.
“Big states don’t require it. California doesn’t require it. Florida, Oklahoma, New Jersey, too. So here we are — one of the last states that have to deal with that,” he added.
Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) was one of the four senators who opposed the bill, and argued that its passage will make Texans less safe.
“If this bill is passed, I am going to have trouble sleeping. I mean that,” he asked during the bill's debate. “Why are you willing to place yourself and Texans in danger by passing this bill?”
Huffines wrote in a March op-ed for the Texas Tribune that studies show these vehicle inspections do nothing to improve safety.
"One such example is Nebraska, which repealed its passenger safety inspection mandate in conjunction with a study of the impact it had on defect-related crashes before and after the repeal," Huffines wrote. "To the surprise of many, the number of defect-related crashes actually fell by nearly 16 percent in the absence of an inspection mandate."
These findings in Nebraska were shown in a 2008 report from the Program Evaluation Division of the North Carolina General Assembly in a three-year average that the number of crashes due to a vehicle defect was 1,759 before the program was repealed in 1982. After its repeal, the three-year average for crashes caused by vehicle defects dropped to 1,486.
This same 2008 report from North Carolina also noted that its state DMV crash statistics say that only 1 percent of the car accidents in 2005 were caused from vehicle defects.
These unnecessary inspections are costing Texas taxpayers millions, Huffines said.
"This tax costs Texans an annual $267 million in fees alone," he said in his op-ed. "What's arguably worse is the tax on our time — the program forces more than 50,000 trips to the inspection station every single day, resulting in more than 9 million wasted hours every year. That adds up to $203 million in lost wages, based on average salary data. After you count the costs of gas, lost wages, and the inspection fees, the program costs the average household at least $40 a year."
According to the Texas Tribune, Huffines said he is confident that this legislation, and the bill's companion legislation in the House, HB3995 introduced by state Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Muenster), will pass the House with the same bipartisan support it saw in the Senate.
If passed in the House, the new law will take effect on March 1, 2018.