A state representative who several years ago championed an easing of Missouri’s vehicle safety inspection law says it’s time to make more vehicles exempt.
Senate Bill 89, passed in 2019, rolled back that law. Since it was enacted, safety inspections have not been required on vehicles that have fewer than 150,000 miles and are up to ten years old. That portion of SB 89 was proposed by Representative J. Eggleston (R-Maysville).
He says in the time since that law passed Missouri’s roads have been no less safe.
“[SB 89] got rid of about half of the cars that needed to be inspected from being inspected … here we are, two or three years later, I’ve looked, I have not found any sudden burst of cars falling apart and causing accidents so I think we’re ready to get rid of [vehicle inspections],” Eggleston told the House Committee on Downsizing State Government.
Eggleston’s proposal, however, wouldn’t completely eliminate inspections in Missouri. Under House Bill 2499, all vehicles made since 2012 and having fewer than 150,000 miles would be exempt.
“I toyed with just doing an all-out, getting rid of it all at once … but because of some of the consternation [about the 2019 proposal], I thought we’ll just ease out of it,” said Eggleston. “So I basically said, ‘Any car that’s not being inspected today is not ever going to have to be inspected. Any of them that are inspected today will continue’ … so over time this will just naturally phase itself out.”
Eggleston’s idea has some support, including from O’Fallon representative Tony Lovasco (R).
“I do think that ultimately, as technology increases, we’re going to see more and more construction improvements made and what not where [inspections are] really going to be completely superfluous very soon, and I think it does makes sense to have it just drop off naturally rather than us revisiting this every few years,” said Lovasco.
Representative Michael Burton (D-Lakeshire) doesn’t support extending the 2019 legislation. He said for him it’s an issue of safety.
“Let’s talk about a cracked windshield. That’s something that’s inspected whenever the car goes through an inspection, and I know we have laws where you can’t drive around with a cracked windshield but we also know that police officers right now are generally not pulling people over for that, but I think that can be a safety issue … same thing with seatbelts. Whenever you get a car inspection they’re checking to make sure all the seatbelts work and what not. That’s a safety concern of mine.”
Eggleston said there are 35 states which have no vehicle inspection requirements, and that includes all the states that border Missouri. He said that hasn’t made their roads less safe than those states who have such a requirement.
“Their statistics on accidents and deaths are no different than ours. There’s no correlation between states that have inspection programs and safety at all,” said Eggleston. “The safety issue you were talking about, it’s perceived but I don’t think it’s actual. There’s no data to back that up.”
The committee’s top Democrat, Gretchen Bangert (Florrisant), opposed the 2019 legislation and has reservations about taking it further. She also dislikes that the 2019 law allows vehicles to be sold without an inspection, and wishes this bill would reverse that.
“So I could have a car that’s a junker and has some sort of issue, and if you don’t know because you don’t get an inspection yourself and just trust me, then the car hasn’t been inspected. That’s one loophole that I wish we could look at is if you were selling a car to another person that it would have to be inspected regardless of the miles,” said Bangert.
Eggleston said it is up to a potential buyer to decide whether to get an inspection on a vehicle they’re considering purchasing.
His 2019 legislation, as a stand-alone before it was amended onto SB 89, passed out of the House 102-45.
The committee has not voted on HB 2499.