Kramer Law Group - April 2019



I t’s been over a year since lawmakers passed a controversial bill that eliminated mandatory auto inspections. Since then, the state of Utah has seen a 43 percent increase in citations issued to motorists for unsafe vehicles and equipment violations, according to KSL News. Additionally, the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has seen an increase in cars colliding, sliding, or slipping in the snow or ice. While there is still a law that requires motorists to install tires with sufficient tread, without the state inspections for passenger cars, some motorists don’t feel compelled to make sure their tires meet state minimums. These unsafe bald tires caused two recent crashes that killed two people in a snowstorm on Feb. 6, taking a grandmother of 18 and a father of two. The idea to eliminate inspections can be credited to Dan McCay, R-Riverton, a state senator who offers no apologies for increasing the incidence of unsafe cars on the road. In fact, McCay claims, “Our roads are safer today as a result of us doing away with vehicle safety inspections.” He further states that the increased incidence of tickets for unsafe equipment is a “great” thing and that “people are getting immediate feedback on the safety of their vehicle and they’re able to go and get it repaired immediately.” The only response I have to his comments is ... wow. When McCay was pushing the bill, he claimed it would provide additional money ($2.6 million) for the UHP to hire more help to enforce our current

troopers — including tape measures, tire pressure gauges, tire tread depth gauges, and window tint testers — to help them perform inspections when they suspect an equipment violation. No additional troopers have been hired as of yet. According to Zesiger, the problem is that troopers are not mechanics and cannot perform the types of inspections that should be handled in a mechanic’s garage, including brake inspections. There are 1.9 million cars in Utah, but only around 34,530 stops each year, which means that fewer than 2 percent of Utah cars are even superficially inspected by UHP troopers. But even then, there will never be an underbody inspection unless the car is impounded or involved in a serious crash. The choice to eliminate inspections was terrible because it virtually guaranteed an increase in serious injuries and death. I was there at the committee meeting to provide feedback from the vantage point of a personal injury lawyer who has seen how unsafe equipment has contributed to or caused a crash to happen. I sat next to Lt. Col. Zesiger as he stood up to vigorously oppose the measure. It quickly became clear that the committee was there to back their colleague and that their minds were made up; they did not appear to be interested in the safety concerns of those who had packed the room to provide input. That’s a shame — I thought their job involved supporting the safety and well-being of the constituents they profess to serve. In the meantime, this means more lawsuits for us because our office will continue to screen cases where equipment violations, such as bald tires, contributed to the crash. Given our influx of lawsuits, you might be inclined to think that I’d support the idea of eliminating inspections; after all, it only promises to increase the number of cases we’ll sign because of faulty and unsafe equipment. However, I would much rather our roads be safer as a result of regular and proper vehicle inspections.

safety equipment laws. “Having additional enforcement and having the additional troopers on the road really is making a difference for our roads,” McCay recently said. If only this were true. According to Lt. Col. Mark Zesiger of the UHP, this additional money has not helped lower the incidence of unsafe cars on the road. In fact, tickets for unsafe cars still rose by 43 percent. The pot of extra money has been spent in part to provide additional equipment to

–Ron Kramer

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