In a move that could portend a rash of car, SUV and light truck accidents down the road, the District of Columbia has announced that it will be ending safety inspections for most privately-owned vehicles beginning on October 1. As a Maryland auto accident and personal injury lawyer, I have seen first-hand the human cost and property damage resulting from poorly maintained passenger cars.
Single-car accidents, as well as multi-vehicle crashes can be caused by the failure of a single critical vehicle system. Will D.C.’s decision mean more fatal collisions and non-fatal injury accidents around the area? Only time will tell, but one thing I know is that automotive safety is something that everyone who travels on our public roads should be concerned about.
According to a recent news article, budget concerns have led to decision. Along with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, the Fenty administration has persuaded the D.C. Council to approve the change this year as a way to save $400,000. Although the safety inspection program is being terminated, emissions inspections will still be required every two years for all cars and trucks — as required by federal regulations. Under the latest decision, but motor vehicles that are not used for commercial purposes will no longer have to prove that they are road-worthy.
The move concerns many people that area roads will soon be flooded with unsafe cars that could cause more accidents. Safety advocates and city mechanics who do inspections question the wisdom of the new policy in a community where they say thousands of residents fail to properly maintain their automobiles.
“You have an entire generation that is woefully unaware of when a car has real problems,” said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, who said 35 percent of inspected vehicles failed inspection last year in the District. “It’s not only about unsafe roads in the District, but Maryland and Virginia as well.”
The new policy will make the District the first jurisdiction in the mid-Atlantic region to drop all safety inspections for most private vehicles.
In Virginia, vehicles are required to pass inspection every year. Maryland does not have annual inspections, but used vehicles are supposed to be inspected before they are sold or transferred.
D.C. Ending Safety Checks On Private Cars, WashingtonPost.com, September 15, 2009