SB3012: Hawaii among last states to require safety checks

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts on Feb. 8, 2024.

Feb. 8,  2024, 3:10 p.m.
Hawaii State Capitol
Conference Room 224 and Videoconference

To: Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts
      Sen. Chris Lee, Chair
      Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye, Vice-Chair

  From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
             Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns


Aloha Chair Lee, Vice-Char Inouye and Committee Members,

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments in support of SB3012, which would extend the period of time before a vehicle safety inspection is required by law from 12 months to 24 months for most vehicles and to three years for new vehicles and motorcycles.

Current law already allows two years before the first safety inspection for new vehicles.[1] This bill would extend that grace period for new vehicles to three years.

For other vehicles covered by subsection “b” of  Section 286-26 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the grace period between inspections would be extended from one year to two years — except for motorcycles, which would be extended from one year to three years.

As SB3012 states, existing vehicle inspection laws are a burden and expense for Hawaii residents, especially on low-income families who must pay for car inspections every year.

The bill further notes that across the country, only 15 states require safety inspections every year.[2]

As for safety, the bill notes that mechanical failures are the cause of 3% of accidents nationwide,[3] but a study on the end of vehicle inspections in New Jersey found that “vehicle safety inspections do not represent an efficient use of government funds, and do not appear to have any significantly mitigating effect on the role of car failure in traffic accidents.”[4]

Hawaii’s Legislative Reference Bureau studied the issue in 1995 and concluded: “There is no conclusive evidence to indicate that the State’s periodic motor vehicle inspection program either is or is not achieving its desired outcome.”[5]

In 2019, the state Senate passed Senate Resolution 14, which directed the state Department of Transportation to conduct its own study of mandatory inspections. To our knowledge, this report was never conducted — or at least never publicly released — since it is not posted to the department’s website.[6]

In general, SB3012 recognizes the need to create smart regulations instead of overly broad mandates. We commend the introducers and sponsors for introducing this measure and furthering the discussion on vehicle safety checks.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Ted Kefalas
Director of Strategic Campaigns
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] “§286-26  Certificates of inspection,” Hawaii Revised Statutes.
[2] Christina Walsh, “Why Do Some States In the USA Have Vehicle Safety Inspections?” VINSmart, Nov. 8, 2021.
[3]  Alex Hoagland and Trevor Woolley, “It’s No Accident: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Vehicle Safety Inspections,” Contemporary Economic Policy, 2018, p. 14.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Keith Fukumoto, “Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection in Hawaii: A Study of Selected Issues,” Legislative Reference Bureau, Report No. 7, 1995, p. 45.
[6] See “Reports to the Legislature,” Hawaii Department of Transportation, accessed Feb. 6, 2024.

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