AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed House Bill (HB) 3297, eliminating the state's vehicle safety inspection program for non-commercial vehicles, despite opposition from the Automotive Service Association (ASA).
The legislature approved the bill on May 23 and the governor signed it on June 13.
According to the bill, effective Jan. 1, 2025, Texas will eliminate the mandate for annual safety inspections for non-commercial vehicles, while retaining safety inspections for commercial vehicles and providing for vehicle emissions inspections where applicable.
Texas is one of about a dozen states that still mandate vehicle safety inspections.
Texas vehicle owners pay a $7 inspection fee at a licensed inspection center, often an auto repair shop, for a safety audit of about 20 vehicle components, including tires, wheel assembly, brakes, lights, steering, wipers and seat belts.
Supporters of the legislation said the impact of inspections on road safety is not strong enough to justify the program's existence and that the requirement is burdensome for people living in rural areas where inspection stations are not easily accessible.
They also argue that advances in vehicle technology have made inspections obsolete, as onboard diagnostic systems more accurately assess and diagnose any issues that would have been previously addressed during an inspection.
Yet supporters of state vehicle inspections, including the ASA, said research shows regular testing of a vehicle's tires, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, seatbelts and other components plays a critical role in preventing injuries, deaths and loss of property.
The ASA said it is a long-time supporter of vehicle safety inspections and opposed the Texas bill, in addition to legislation that would have decreased the required frequency of inspections.
Yamile Calles, who handles state vehicle inspections at Starkey Service Center in Dallas, told Tire Business she was concerned about the elimination of the state inspections.
"There's too many violations that are causing safety concerns and that could cost lives if not approached or addressed during a simple inspection," she said.
The shop conducts about 300 state vehicle inspections a week on average and some of the most common violations are excessive tire wear and little or no brake fluid, she said.
She said the shop only earns about a dollar from the safety inspection fee, and vehicles that don't pass inspection have 30 days to address the issues, so they don't have to get the service done at her shop.
"But that is not the point of an inspection, to gain business. It's more to maintain the safety of the community," she said.