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Virginia Safety Inspection Program


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Virginia's Governor in his 2020 budget proposal has included elimination of the state's vehicle safety inspection program.  In addition, a state legislator has introduced a bill doing the same.  I serve on the board of the Virginia Automotive Association, a group of over 200 independent shops who have banded together to lobby in the interests of our industry. VAA has ponied up a a $25000 increase in the lobbying budget to fight the move.   As a shop owner, I have mixed emotions on the subject, but if I were gambling I would bet that the program will go away.   On one hand, it's kind of nice that the state's motorists are forced to bring their cars to a shop once a year, giving us an opportunity to make them life-long customers. Also, it has created a cadre of technicians in the state who have been vetted and background checked by the state police.   On the other hand, there are a litany of negatives inluding  customer resentment, anger when their vehicle fails, uneven management by the state police who oversee the program due to limited resources.  Some shops are "by the book" while others are "sticker mills" who will pass anything.  Unfortunately, VAA and others have been unable to produce hard statistics that show that the program .makes a difference in highway safety.  The big studies I have found blame driver error for the majority of accidents.  What is ironic is that just this year VAA won a long battle to get the inspection fee raised from 16 to 20 dollars.   The legislature convenes in January to enact laws that will take effect in June.

I would like to hear how other Virginia shop owners feel and I would like to hear from other states that have witnessed termination of these programs.

Mark Anderton

 

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