MATT GEPHARDT

Utah vehicle safety inspections drop 92%, crashes related to equipment failure remain flat

Apr 18, 2023, 8:37 AM

SANDY, Utah — From brakes to tires, manager Chris Pappas at Hillside Tire & Service said folks are waiting too long to fix big issues.

“Since we quit doing safety inspections, most people don’t get their car checked on a regular basis,” Pappas said. “Whereas before, when we did safety inspections, you had to have one performed yearly, you would be aware of problems with your car.”

Mandatory vehicle safety inspections were abolished in 2017 through HB267. Bill sponsor Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, at the time a state representative, reasoned then that safety inspection requirements simply led to delayed needed repairs until the annual check.

Since then, the number of safety inspections performed has dropped by 92%.

According to data from the Utah Department of Public Safety, more than 1.8 million inspections were performed in 2017, the last year of the mandatory program.

Last year, only 150,764 safety inspections were performed.

Enforcement on equipment varies

Making sure vehicles on the road are mechanically sound now falls increasingly into the lap of the Utah Highway Patrol.

“We’ve tried to educate the public about equipment laws and make sure they know that they’re still applicable,” said UHP Lt. Matt Spillman.

Court data obtained by KSL Investigators showed a big spike in tickets given for unsafe vehicles in 2019, with 7,729 cases statewide.

“2019 saw a significant increase in equipment enforcement contacts,” Spillman explained. “This was shortly after the law change and we believe was primarily the result of a significant emphasis on equipment enforcement by UHP leadership.”

That changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Spillman cited “challenges…including both the COVID pandemic and civil unrest unlike we had ever before seen in Utah” in 2020 for a drastic reduction in tickets given. Labor shortages of “80-100 troopers departmentwide” were to blame in 2021 for another drop in enforcement.

Violation #1

While the number of equipment violation tickets did increase last year, Spillman said there is one thing they regularly see that is problematic.

“Violations are still out there like they always were,” Spillman said. “One of the violations that we’re the most concerned with right now is tires.”

Bad tires are the number one issue when it comes to crashes involving equipment as a contributing factor, with 590 crashes involving faulty tires in 2022.

It’s significantly higher than faulty brakes, which was the second-leading cause of these types of crashes last year, with 131 accidents.

Getting pulled over for a safety violation is a primary offense, but Spillman said they’re not always easy to spot.

“Sometimes we don’t see those until they’re on the side of the road, crashed,” he explained.

Last year, troopers made 46,226 equipment enforcement contacts with motorists, a 39% increase from 2017.

Spillman indicated there are five parts of the vehicle that they check during these contacts: glass, altered suspension, tint, lighting and tires.

Drop in inspections, crashes remain level

Despite the drop in safety inspections, and increase in tickets, crashes due to equipment have remained at a relatively flat rate since 2017.

Last year, 1,223 crashes happened on Utah roads where equipment was named as a contributing factor. That’s compared to 1,237 such crashes in 2017, when safety inspections were still mandatory.

“It really does surprise me,” Pappas said, “because what we see, the amount of cars that we see that shouldn’t pass a safety inspection, has greatly increased since they abolished the program.”

KSL Investigators reached out to McCay and the original bill’s cosponsor, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, to find out if they feel the data shows their bill is working as intended. Neither chose to speak with us on camera.

Henderson’s spokesperson told us, “She was inclined to let the data speak for itself.”

Currently, 16 states have some kind of mandatory safety inspection in place.

Pappas said he hoped some kind of inspection would be revived in the statehouse.

“There’s just too many vehicles out on the highways that are unsafe,” said Pappas. “I don’t want a car with bald tires running around on the road with my wife, my children and my grandchildren out on the road.”

Keeping cars safe

Keeping your vehicle safe falls to the owner. Though safety inspections are not mandatory, they are still available at nearly 1,900 sites across Utah and cost around $30.

Often, they can be done when taking your car in for an oil change.

As for tires, Pappas showed an old but reliable trick to make sure you don’t end up crashing on the side of the road by using a penny to check your tread.

“You simply take (the penny) head down and stick it in the tire,” said Pappas, “and if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are worn out and in need of replacement.”

RELATED:


Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

KSL 5 TV Live

Matt Gephardt

Pig-butchering is a devastating combination of romance and crypto scams, and it’s taking Utahns f...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Unmasking the fast-moving pig-butchering scam hitting Utah

Pig-butchering is a devastating combination of romance and crypto scams, and it’s taking Utahns for all their worth.

5 days ago

Utah's lemom law...

Matt Gephardt

Utah’s lemon law: Why the rules could leave you in a financial squeeze

Golf carts, side-by-sides and other recreational vehicles can cost well over $10,000. But if you end up with a lemon, Utah’s law may leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.

5 days ago

Hacker behind a keyboard. (FILE)...

Matt Gephardt

Using AI to tackle your debt

We've seen the power of artificial intelligence used to help navigate all sorts of complex problems: Medicine, education, customer service among many others. Well, it doesn’t get much more complex than Americans grappling with debt.

7 days ago

We’ve all encountered the latest gratuity trend. So, do you reward service that hasn’t happened...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

People hate tipping before they’re served, but does it affect the quality of service?

Should you reward service that hasn’t happened yet? Matt Gephardt digs into the new push to receive a gratuity before any work is done.

8 days ago

Many Utahns struggle affording the rising costs of health care, even those with health insurance. N...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

What you need to know about medical credit cards

Many Utahns struggle affording the rising costs of health care, even those with health insurance.

12 days ago

FILE - A line of unsold 2018 Cooper Clubmen sit in a long row at a Mini dealership, March 30, 2018,...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

More people are leasing new cars but does it make sense for you?

Sticker shock is nearly universal for anyone looking for a new car and that has many drivers considering leasing their next car. But is it the right option for you?

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Utah vehicle safety inspections drop 92%, crashes related to equipment failure remain flat