Vehicle repairers have watched a slow hemorrhage of state vehicle safety inspection programs for a number of years. These programs go back to 1926 beginning with a voluntary program in Massachusetts and increased to 31 states plus the District of Columbia in 1975. In addition to voluntary programs and mandatory state programs, the federal government, through the Highway Safety Act of 1966, mandated that the U.S. Department of Transportation prescribe uniform standards for state highway safety programs.
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The 1990 Clean Air Amendments encouraged states to establish emissions inspection and maintenance programs to improve air quality. These programs were regularly attacked by the media, political pundits and even some in the auto industry. Unfortunately, a number of policymakers in safety inspection states took advantage of this movement and compared safety inspection to problems with emissions inspection and maintenance. Arguments against vehicle safety inspection programs included costs to the consumer, inconvenience of the inspection, little evidence that inspection prevented accidents, injuries and deaths, just another tax, etc.
Although programs in Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina survived frequent attacks, the industry saw inspection programs in Mississippi, New Jersey, District of Columbia eliminated. As of this writing, we have 15 state programs.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA), along with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and other members of the automotive aftermarket, held numerous conferences during CARS each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Of late, ASA held Vehicle Safety Inspection Forums in Pennsylvania and Missouri. Although well attended with excellent program content, these forums have not prevented the onslaught of attacks on state inspection programs in those states.