House Bill 265 generated lots of debate as proponents and opponents cited safety statistics from states with and without mandatory safety inspections. Utah was one of 16 states that required annual safety inspections before vehicles could be registered. Despite many thinking the Governor would veto the bill, it was signed and went into effect on Jan. 1.
Personal vehicles in Utah are no longer required to have a safety inspection. Commercial vehicles, including farm trucks, are still required to get an annual safety assessment. There is no agricultural exemption for this one.
Sponsors of the bill were Rep. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) and Sen. Diedre Henderson, (R-Spanish Fork). These sponsors argued that it is the responsibility of citizens rather than the state to ensure vehicles are safe and road-worthy. They also maintained that we are building vehicles now that are significantly safer than older models. As such, they stated that a state-mandated safety inspection is simply a cost and a bother to those who own and operate vehicles.
Others, mainly auto mechanics, argued that many people fail to check their vehicles regularly. Without the required inspections, many will drive on bald tires or with burned-out lights or brakes that need service. Windshields and wiper blades were additional items that were referenced with potential neglect.
A fiscal analysis found that passage of the bill would save consumers approximately $25 million annually. Vehicle inspection stations, however, would collectively take a similar $25 million annual hit to their revenue. HB 265 passed the House, 54-17, and the Senate with a 19-6 vote.
New safety inspection amendments also reference low-speed vehicles. State statute requires such vehicles to be “equipped with headlamps; front and rear turn signals, tail lamps, and stop lamps; turn signal lamps; reflex reflectors: one on the rear of the vehicle and one on the left and right side as far to the rear of the vehicle as practical …. A person may not operate a low-speed vehicle on a highway without displaying on the rear of the low-speed vehicle, a slow-moving vehicle identification emblem that complies with the Society of Automotive Engineers standard SAE J943.” Windshields, rear-view mirrors and parking brakes are also referenced in the 2017 Safety Inspection Amendments. An additional section in the bill discusses “Street-legal all-terrain vehicles.” Requirements there are very similar to the requirements for low-speed vehicles.
Emissions inspections do not go away with HB 265. Section 41-6a-1642 states: “The legislative body of each county required under federal law to utilize a motor vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program or in which an emissions inspection and maintenance program is necessary to attain or maintain any national ambient air quality standard shall require a certificate of emissions inspection, a wavier, or other evidence the motor vehicle is exempt from emissions inspection and maintenance program requirements.”
Implements of husbandry and motor vehicles that fit the definition of a farm truck under Section 41-1a-102 may be exempt from the emissions test. The truck must be owned by one who has land in green-belt and has evidence that the truck is used “exclusively for the transportation of farm products, including livestock and its products, poultry and its products, floriculture and horticultural products; and in the transportation of farm supplies …”
The United States does not have a simple or functional federal system for vehicle inspections. Inspections are done at a state level. Some states have intense state inspection requirements, demanding a multi-point process to test car safety and ensure their roads and highways stay clear. Others require testing to ensure that vehicle emissions aren’t polluting their cities and towns. Some states may require both.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are states without vehicle inspection regulations at all. Each state also has its own frequency standards for when drivers need their vehicle inspected for safety and emissions.