IN THE UNITED STATESThe history of vehicle inspection in the United States began with a voluntary inspection program conducted in the State of Massachusetts during the year 1926. This was followed in the year 1927 when the governors of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland proclaimed "Save A Life" compaigns. In these campaigns, motor vehicle owners had their automobiles voluntarily inspected and repairs of faulty equipment made by designated garages.
During the years 1928 and 1929, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware joined this program. In 1929, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware enacted laws requiring periodic vehicle inspection in officially designated inspection garages or service stations. In 1930, the six New England States joined in a united program for promoting highway safety through periodic inspection.
In 1937, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the National Conservation Society sponsored the development of the Vehicle Inspection Code-under procedure of the American Standards Association. Consequently, in 1938, the inspection section of Act V, Uniform Vehicle Code, was approved by the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety. By 1940, the Code had been approved and endorsed by the American Standards Association, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and National Conservation Bureau, and the preparation of a vehicle inspection manual was begun. Other organizations which have actively supported compulsory vehicle inspection are Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the U. S., Automotive Safety Foundation, National Highway Users Conference, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and others.
During World War II, many states were forced to curtail their inspection program due to the scarcity of tires, parts, etc., and in some of the states the program was completely suspended. The State of Washington suspended their inspections through stateowned inspection stations during World War II, and they have never resumed the program nor repealed the law.
The President's Committee for Traffic Safety has been a strong supporter of compulsory inspection since the organization of that Committee in 1946. The 1961 report of that Committee reads as follows: "Concerted continuing efforts should be made-including organized, informed citizen support-to establish sound inspection programs in all states with the least possible delay. Periodic vehicle inspection should be considered an essential part of the highway safety program in every state."
Because of the national interest in the overall safety picture, federal legislation was enacted by Congress and signed by the President
in September 1966. The specific laws that were enacted were "The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Act of 1966" (PL 89-563) and "The Highway Safety Act of 1966" (PL. 89-564).
The Secretary of Commerce is directed to carry out the provisions of these laws through a national traffic safety agency headed by an administrator appointed by the President. This agency was established and was transferred to the new U. S. Department of Transportation in April 1967 and created a Secretary of Transportation.
The laws, in general, provide for mandatory safety performance standards for all new motor vehicles, funds for the development and improvement of strong state and local traffic safety programs, and comprehensive research into the causes and prevention of traffic accidents.
The safety programs standards include vehicle inspection and other aspects of traffic safety.
In more detail, this federal legislation provides that each state must have a traffic safety program which will meet the requirements and the approval of the Secretary of Transportation. Periodic vehicle inspection is one of the requirements. Congress has indicated that vehicle inspection should be performed at state level.
Because of the federal activity in the field of safety and because of the serious nature of the problem, it is anticipated that the new standards will require more sophisticated methods and techniques of inspection than have been used in the inspection programs conducted in this country in the past.-[ 02.10.00 IN TEXASProbably as a result of a report in 1924 by a Federal Government committee, headed by Herbert Hoover, which forecasted the terrific impact the use of the automobile would have in the United States and the need for legislation to regulate its operation, the Texas Legislature in 1925 passed a headlight test law.
This law required all vehicle owners to present a certificate of head lamp inspection to the county tax collector when registration was sought. The law was administered by the Highway Department but delegated the appointment of stations, collection of fees, etc., to the Commissioners Court of each county. The stations were therefore called "County Headlight Test Stations." A fee of 25c plus adjustments per inspection was collected by each station with the, provision that the individual Commissioners Court could decide what portion of the 25$ fee could be retained by the test station. All certificates, forms, etc., were supplied by the Highway Department to the Commissioners Court from which the test stations received supplies on consignment and paid for them when the required monthly report was submitted to the Commissioners Court.
A head lamp machine or screen (no candlepower required) was the only mandatory testing equipment required at the test station, and the Commissioners Court certified one man at each such test station to check and certify that the beam direction of the head lamp was within required tolerance.
This law continued In effect until 1933 when it was repealed due to the "confusion and inconvenience it was causing the public."
In the same law which established the headlight test stations, the Texas Highway Department was given authority to approve various types of lights and other vehicle equipment. This section of the law was not repealed and remained as a function of the Texas Highway Department until that authority was transferred to the Texas Department of Public Safety when it was organized in 1935.
When the State Highway Motor Patrol was organized in 1929 under the Highway Department, 15 decelerometers were purchased and Issued to the patrolmen to conduct brake tests on vehicles. Later, more decelerometers were purchased. In the spring of 1930, when the State Highway Motor Patrol class was graduated and assigned, a great amount of their time was spent testing brakes with these decelerometers. Safety test lanes were set up temporarily in Austin, Houston, and other cities in Texas for testing brake performance. This practice continued as a group effort and on an individual basis until 1937.
In 1937, the Department launched Into vehicle inspection by safety lane. Two trucks were purchased to transport the Weaver Safety Lane equipment consisting of a brake machine, scuff gauge, and other testing devices. Highway Patrolmen were permanently assigned to travel over the State with this equipment to safety test vehicles. Each of the two crews had a sergeant in charge and approximately six patrolmen to man the machines. Itineraries were set up and when the Safety Lane came to a given Highway Patrol district, patrolmen in that district would assist in operating the Safety Lane and assist in directing traffic through the lane. If the vehicle passed inspection, a small sticker in the shape of the State of Texaswith the wording on the reverse side "This vehicle is safe if drivensanely" and signed by the Director was placed in the lower right-hand corner of the windshield. If the vehicle failed to pass inspection, a small square red sticker was placed on the windshield; the driver was told why the vehicle failed and he was admonished to get the vehicle repaired and return to the Safety Lane for a reinspec-tion. All Safety Lane inspections were free to the public.
On September 1,1939, the Safety Lanes in Texas were discontinued due to "blue pencil" appropriation cuts by then Governor O'Daniel and to this date the lanes have not been reinstituted. To offset this
discontinuation of this service, in part at least, additional encouragement was given to the patrolmen's use of the new Muther decelerometers which had been purchased prior to 1939 and assigned in quantity to each Highway Patrol district.
From 1939 to 1951 vehicle inspection In Texas was largely a matter of patrolmen "working lights" on a Saturday night on some busy street or intersection.
Down through the years, many bills had been introduced in the Texas Legislature to establish a compulsory inspection program in this State but sufficient force had not been generated for the adoption of such a program.
Nevertheless, it became increasingly evident that Texas was in need of an Inspection program because little was being done to combat the ever increasing vehicle accidents with a defective equipment cause or with a vehicle defect as a contributing factor in the accident. Statistics in 1951 indicated 13% of all fatal accidents had a vehicle defect as a causative factor; 12% of all vehicles involved in nonfatal accidents had a vehicle defect.
In 1951, in Regular Session, the 52nd Legislature of Texas, by a House vote of 118 to 12 and a Senate vote of 19 to 9, adopted House Bill No. 223, which gave Texas its first compulsory vehicle inspection program. House Bill No. 223 contained many provisions which hindered its acceptance by the public and made it increasingly difficult to administer. Some of those provisions were:The bill provided no appropriation for administration.
Vehicle owners were required to show evidence of in spection before title could be transferred and before their vehicles could be registered for 1952.
The Act became effective September 7, 1951, but It was not until December 24, 1951, that the first car was inspected under the Act.
Items to be inspected were left to the discretion of the Department.
When 1951-52 inspection certificate #1 was placed on Governor Alan Shivers' Cadillac at vehicle inspecton station #1, Frontier Pontiac, Fort Worth, Texas, it was Christmas Eve 1951. At that time, only a few inspection stations had been authorized and it became evident that it would be impossible for the 3 million vehicles in Texas to be Inspected before the registration deadline date on April 1,1952. The Attorney General rendered an opinion to the Texas Department of Public Safety to the effect that a vehicle could be registered or transferred anytime before September 7, 1952, without showing evidence of inspection. This alleviated the situation somewhat but there were other troubles.
There was a lack of public information. There was a lack of personnel to answer correspondence and to make investigations. There was a lack of coordination in the formulation and execution of policy procedures because all personnel had been "borrowed" from other divisions of the Department and these personnel were attempting to do two jobs.
It was not until January 1, 1952, that the new Motor Vehicle Inspection Division received personnel of its own when 4 supervisors and a secretary were transferred from other divisions of the Department. On March 1, 1952, 15 patrolmen were transferred; April 1 brought 12 more patrolmen and May 1 brought 12 more patrolmen and 4 captains. June, July, and August transfers brought the total Motor Vehicle Inspection Division manpower strength to 1 chief, 1 assistant chief, 6 captains, and 44 patrolmen. During this time, a small but efficient force of file clerks had been transferred to the Austin headquarters of the new division.
In the spring of 1952, so many complaints arose regarding the inspection program that the Public Safety Commission abandoned the then current manual and existing regulations relating to the inspection program. At the same time, the Commission adopted a new and abbreviated set of inspection requirements and procedures in an attempt to save the program from certain destruction. During this time, little or no enforcement was expended on vehicles without an Inspection certificate; many believed the law would be repealed at the next session of the Legislature.
When the 53rd Legislature met in January, 1953, seven bills relating to motor vehicle Inspection were Introduced. In the Senate, SB No. 3 was for repeal while SB No. 9 was to amend. In the House, there wasHB No. 19 for repeal, HB No. 20 for repeal, HB No. 78 to repeal, HB No. 39 to amend, and HB No. 179 to repeal. Senate Bill No. 9 and House Bill No. 39 were identical bills.
On March 12,1953, by a vote of 90 to 42 in the House and by a vote of 19 to 12 in the Senate, House Bill No. 39 was passed to amend the Motor Vehicle Inspection Act and the vehicle inspection program was saved.
The amended version of the Vehicle Inspection Act as passed in 1953 did the following to the then existent program:Deleted inspection for the exhaust system.
Required Attorney General approval on all rules and regula tions promulgated by the Department regarding inspection.
Prohibited the Department from requiring anything in the
inspection not prescribed in the Equipment Law (Article XIV).
7) Deleted the provision requiring evidence of inspection before a vehicle could be registered or transferred.
The 53rd Legislature provided for 6 additional patrolmen in the Motor Vehicle Inspection Division thus allowing 50 patrolmen, 6 captains, 1 assistant chief, and 1 chief.
The 55th Legislature in 1957 increased the personnel of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Division with an additional 6 patrolmen.
In 1957, the Texas Department of Public Safety was reorganized and the State was divided into six regions. Each region under the supervision of a regional commander had one Motor Vehicle Inspection captain plus a number of patrolmen assigned based on vehicle registration, square mile area, and number of inspection stations prior to reorganization. At this time, the Motor Vehicle Inspection Division became the Vehicle Inspection Service. Its authorized strength was 6 captains and 56 troopers.
The 56th Legislature in 1959 increased the personnel of Vehicle Inspection Service with an additional 2 troopers.
The 57th Legislature in 1961 authorized the Vehicle Inspection Service to have 6 sergeants, one for each region in the State.
The 58th Legislature made an effort to improve the Act in 1963, received committee approval, but did not reach the floor of either legislative body.
In the opening days of the 59th Legislature, Regular Session, 1965, House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 52, companion bills, were introduced amending the Vehicle Inspection Act to include the inspection of steering, tires and wheels, glass, and exhaust system. The fee was raised to $2.00 and there were some administrative changes which were favorable to the Department. HB 22 was later combined with a bill which would allow the inspection of steering and glass and transfer the monies collected from the sale of certificates at 95 cents each to a fund to support a driver education program to be administered by the Department by troopers. This bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate, where the bill lay idle for some three weeks without being sent to a committee for consideration. The day before the Legislature adjourned HB 22 was referred to committee, but the bill was never considered by the committee. HB 22 and Senate Bill 52 died in the Senate on adjournment.
The 59th Legislature in 1965 again increased the personnel of the Vehicle Inspection Service by adding 4 additional troopers.
The 60th Legislature in 1967 made the first changes in the Vehicle Inspection Act since 1953. This was passed as House Bill 357. It added, as additional items of inspection, steering, wheels and rims, and front seat belts. The station license fee was raised to $10.00and the Inspection fee was raised to $1.75.
The 60th Legislature In 1967 authorized an additional sergeant for each region. This increase gave each region 2 sergeants. They also provided 15 additional troopers. This brought the authorized complement of the Vehicle Inspection Service up to 95 which included 77 troopers, 12 sergeants, and 6 captains.
The 61st Legislature in 1969 made numerous changes in the Vehicle Inspection Act. This was passed as Senate Bill 7. It added, as additional items of inspection, the exhaust system and the exhaust emission system. The location of the inspection certificate was moved from the lower right-hand corner of the windshield to the lower left-hand corner of the windshield. The fixed deadline of inspection was changed to permit a year-round or staggered system of inspection, whereby the inspection certificate expires 12 months from the date of issue. The inspection fee was raised to $2.00.
The 62nd Legislature in 1971 made numerous changes in the Vehicle Inspection Act. One change was passed as House Bill 900. It provided that an investigating officer of an accident could remove the inspection certificate from the windshield if the vehicle had sustained damages which would make the vehicle unable to pass the inspection requirements. A revised Uniform Act was passed which contained a comprehensive change in the vehicle equipment section. This additional equipment requirement was incorporated within the inspection procedures beginning January 1,1972. House Bill 6 was passed adding tires as an item of inspection and providing for certification of inspectors, both effective January 1,1973. This Legislature also increased the personnel of the Vehicle Inspection Service by adding 5 additional troopers.
The 63rd Legislature in 1973 passed House Bill 998 effective August 1973. This bill authorized the Department to appoint agencies of the State and political subdivisions as official inspection stations. \ The inspection was limited to those vehicles owned and operated by the various State agencies and political subdivisions. House Bill 1196 of the 63rd Legislature provided for the inspection of motor-assisted bicycles. The Legislature also provided for the display of inspection certificates on motorcycles to be near the license plate. As a result of this legislation, the Department added trailer and motorcycle stations to the various classes of inspection stations. This necessitated the implementation of special decal type trailer-motorcycle certificates. This Legislature also increased the personnel of the Vehicle Inspection Service by adding 12 additional troopers.
The 64th Legislature in 1975 passed House Bill 750 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act to include fraudulent representation of defects on inspections performed. This Legislature also increased the personnel of the Vehicle Inspection Service by adding 3 additional troopers.
The 65th Legislature in 1977 passed Senate Bill 1302 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act to delete the bond requirement, increase fees, and reword sections of the Act.
House Bill 1772 was also passed which gave a five-day grace period for enforcement on expired inspection certificates. This Legislature also increased the personnel of the Vehicle Inspection Service by adding 3 additional troopers.
The 66th Legislature in 1979 passed Senate Bill 108 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act to require the inspection of out-of-state vehicles and the recording of the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for registration purposes. Also, in 1979 Senate Bill 43 was passed raising the inspection fee to five dollars ($5.00). Seventy-five cents (75«) of the fee is to be placed in the retirement fund for state police officers.
The 67th Legislature in 1981 passed Senate Bill 955 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act by clearing up language in the existing Act. Inspector certification was changed from every year to every two years and certification fee was changed from five dollars ($5) to ten dollars ($10).
The first repeal bill since 1953 (House Bill 1833) was introduced. The bill was tabled on the floor of the House and died without further action.
The 68th Legislature in 1983 passed Senate Bill 1205 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act to permit parameter vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance programs to be established by the Department in those counties requested by the Texas Air Control Board. The legislation provided for an additional inspection fee increase of up to five dollars by Public Safety Commission rule. This legislation increased the personnel for the emission program in Harris County by adding one sergeant and six additional troopers. Also, in 1983 Senate Bill 444 was passed raising the inspection fee to $5.25. The 25<t of the fee is an additional amount to be placed in the Peace Officers Retirement Fund for state police officers.
The second repeal bill (House Bill 1081) was introduced. The bill died in a House subcommittee without further action.
The 69th Legislature in 1985 passed Senate Bill 725 which amended the Vehicle Inspection Act to permit other types of vehicle emission inspection and maintenance programs to be established by the Department in those counties requested by the Texas Air Control Board. The legislation provided for an additional inspection fee increase of up to $10 by the Public Safety Commission rule Also, In 1985, House Bill 1593 was passed raising the inspection fee to $7.75 (. House Bill 1593 also provided for a two-year inspection certificate for new cars and light trucks. The fee for the two-year inspection certificate was $15 [$10 for certificate cost ( $4 to Retirement System) ]. The Appropriations bill also reduced the number of personnel by 42 people effective September 1,1985. This reduction was In all regions. An increase in personnel of one sergeant and nine troopers for the emission program in Dallas, Tarrant, and El Paso counties was made effective September 1,1985. The third repeal bill (House Bill 1873) was introduced. The bill was to change the inspection program from a periodic type to one of roadway (routine spot) inspection by peace officers. This legislation failed to pass in 1985.Legislation was passed in the 70th Legislature in 1987 that the inspection station may waive the inspection fee otherwise due from the owner of a vehicle inspected.
[ In 1991, the 72nd Legislature passed several bills which substantially impacted the Vehicle Inspection Service with noncommissioned personnel by September 1, 1995.
House Bill 2 prohibits the issuance of an inspection certificate to a vehicle unless the owner/operator shows proof of financial responsibility.
Senate Bill 2, passed during the first called session, The fee for the annual safety inspection was increased to $10.50. Two dollars of the fee collected for each inspection certificate sold is deposited to the Clean Air Fund, which is administered by the Texas Air Control Board. This bill also repealed Art. XV, Sec. 141(c-1), which provided that the Initial inspection of new vehicles sold in Texas would be valid for two years:
[ In 1993, the 73rd Legislature passed House Bill 1969 which allowed for the impoundment of vehicles operated or parked in a public place displaying an inspection certificate that was fictitious or issued to another vehicle. This bill also transferred the idle emissions inspection to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission as soon as they could establish a centralized inspection program. This transfer occurred in 1995. The bill also required vehicles registered in emissions counties to be emissions-inspected prior to registration.
[ Senate Bill 926 reinstated the two-year safety inspection certificate for new vehicles sold in Texas. The fee for the two-year inspection certificate was raised to $19.75 ( $3.75 to Retirement System and $4.00 to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission]
[ The 73rd Legislature authorized 15 commissioned officer positions for vehicle inspection service. These troopers were dedicated to the criminal aspect of the vehicle inspection program, specifically dealing with counterfeit documents.
[ In 1995, the 74th Legislature added an exemption to law enforcement vehicles from window tint in House Bill 3062.
[ Senate Bill 178 gave the emissions program back to DPS to be implemented through its vehicle inspection stations instead of at centralized stations. This bill also authorized additional supervisors and personnel in emissions counties. Three additional supervisors and 12 additional technicians were allocated for Dallas, Tarrant, El Paso, and Harris counties.
[ The Vehicle Inspection Program has been continuously improved administratively and has attained a position of respect with the citizens of Texas. Nationally, Texas has continued to rank high in program efficiency ratings when compared with the programs being conducted in other states.
On March 1, 2015, Due to Legislature mandates, Texas will no longer issue safety inspection certificates, however the safety program will still be in force. A vehicle inspection report will be issued with each inspection. Each vehicle must be inspected prior to being registered. An inspection fee of $7.00 will be collected for each vehicle in a non emission county.
The Vehicle Inspection Program in Texas has been upgraded time after time to the extent that Texas can now be proud of the program and its results. The program has been accepted by Texans as evidenced by their voluntary compliance and as evidenced by the relatively few complaints regarding the inspection program.
The Vehicle Inspection Program in Texas will continue to grow and prosper as long as this tool of traffic management is viewed for what it is and what it can do to reduce traffic accidents due to vehicle defects. When the objective of vehicle inspection is changed from safety to revenue, the program is repudiated.