The impact of stopping vehicle inspections

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

If you don't like the hassle of getting your car inspected each year, listen to this. Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill to end the inspections, saying they're a burden to drivers and don't really improve auto safety. But others say there could be future costs to the environment.

KOTV's Tami Marler says remember all those "Ozone Alert" days we had last summer? At least a portion of annual inspections is designed to keep us in "Clean Air" compliance with the EPA. Lewis Elliott is doing what he does a few hundred times a month. But this part of his bread and butter may go away with the stroke of Governor Keating's pen. "They're gonna do away with 'em." If the new legislation passes, 4-Star Tire would lose one to two thousand dollars in revenue a month, for inspections that take about ten minutes each. "You have to take over the vehicle." Elliott says, "First thing is ask for a driver's license and insurance. You have to take over the vehicle and pull 'em in the bay. Raise it up. First you check all the tag lights and blinkers, parking brake. Check under the hood. Raise it up, check all the exhaust, catalytic converter, emissions stuff." He adds, "You just look. None of it's hands-on. You don't have to touch anything."

Some officials say that's part of the problem with the system that's in place. Tulsa mayor's assistant, Hilary Kitz says, "It's just that a visual inspection isn't going to really tell you whether your car is polluting or not. So in order to do that test, it's a much more expensive tail pipe emissions test, which costs a lot more money than we're spending now." About $43-million in the transportation sector alone, according to the Department of Environmental Quality. Each year, Tulsa comes a little closer to exceeding federal ozone limits, and vehicle emissions play a vital role. "In many areas where the air pollution is a problem and they've had to implement more stringent emission controls on vehicles, those tests cost as much as 30 or 40 dollars every year." Trade that for the five dollars you pay now, to keep unsafe cars off the road. Lewis Elliott says, "I've had to turn a bunch of them away. Uh for wire holding the exhaust up. For holes, bad holes, loud, loud exhaust."

If we "were" to exceed federal clean air standards, studies suggest it would cost "tens of millions" of dollars to bring us back into compliance. If Keating signs the vehicle inspections bill, it would take effect in late August.