Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2008   by Bento de Sao Jose, owner of Bento's Auto & Tire Centres

Bringing in mandatory safety inspections for vehicles

It is incredible how many unsafe cars are on the road today. Whenever the Ontario Provincial Police or the local police stop cars during the major holidays, about one-third will have their plates conf...

It is incredible how many unsafe cars are on the road today. Whenever the Ontario Provincial Police or the local police stop cars during the major holidays, about one-third will have their plates confiscated and the drivers fined because the vehicles are mechanically unsafe. Some of the stories told by the police are rather frightening. In one case, the police pulled over someone who was driving a car that had a large hole in the floor where the driver was, along with a long-list of other mechanical problems. How this person could drive the car is beyond me; and why this car was ever allowed on the road, in the first place, is something the police must have asked themselves.

Right now, I suspect, there are a many vehicles on the road that while on the surface look fine, are in reality a hazard to both the driver and others sharing that same road. I myself have seen such vehicles. Once, I had a fellow come into my shop complaining of some mechanical problem. I soon discovered the person was driving with a broken tie-rod. However, he did not want to do the repair and I caught him trying to fix the tie-rod with some wire and rope in my lot. He believed he could take the vehicle back onto the road with such a jerry-rigged repair. When I saw this I told him he would not drive the vehicle in that condition from my lot. He would either have to get the vehicle properly inspected and repaired, or if he continued to insist on not having the work done, then he had to have the vehicle towed. I would not let him drive it and if he tried I was prepared to call the police to stop him.

The question that really has to be asked is why are such unsafe vehicles allowed on the road in the first place? Why do we lack a mechanism to make sure someone is driving a safe and well-maintained vehicle and not one that is a danger to themselves and others? In Europe, there are laws in many countries that mandate regular safety inspections of vehicles so they can be certified for the road. Sometimes this is done yearly, and in some countries, once the vehicle is eight or more years old, it needs to be done twice a year by a licensed mechanic who certifies the vehicle is safe, or will perform any repairs or maintenance work needed to bring the vehicle up to code.

I believe that this is something we should give serious consideration. Too many vehicles on the road today have not had proper safety checks and have not been maintained by their owners. In Ontario, for example, you can own a vehicle and for its entire life you can drive it without ever having had any maintenance work done on the vehicle. The only regular inspection under law is the emissions test, which if a vehicle fails, compels the driver to have that vehicle then inspected and any problems fixed in order to pass the test and get the license plate renewed. Failure to do so will result in the owner not being able to renew their plate and if they try to drive without that renewal there is a heavy fine. Even insurance companies will demand a full vehicle inspection and report when someone purchases a used vehicle, in order to make sure it is safe to drive.

I believe regularly mandated safety inspections of vehicles is a must today in order to prevent already unsafe vehicles from getting onto the road, and to also better maintain a vehicle so it does not reach the kind of dangerous level of disrepair as the one I mentioned earlier. The inspections should be done regularly by licensed technicians much in the same way we do a drive clean inspection in order to renew a license plate. If a vehicle fails to pass the inspection, then the owner cannot renew their plate until the vehicle is brought up to the minimum safety codes required by law. In this way we can better maintain today’s vehicles and keep the unsafe ones off the road to the benefit of everyone.


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