On Monday, July 17, 2006, professionals in the automotive repair and surrounding industries gathered at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in Trenton to voice their displeasure over proposed changes to the state’s inspection program. The proposed amendments to state motor vehicle and motorcycle inspection regulations would include reclassifying various safety issues – usually grounds for inspection failure – as simple “advisories.” These safety issues include (but are not limited to) cracked windshields, faulty windshield wipers, brake lights and license plate lights. Members and executives of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP/NJ), the Mechanics Education Association (MEA), AAA of NJ, the Repair Excellence Council, the NJ Gasoline Retailers Association (NJGRA), Local 518 (a labor union representing NJ vehicle inspection employees) and others were given the chance to each say their piece in front of an advisory committee comprised of MVC officials.
All who spoke in front of the committee mentioned the potentially harmful repercussions of weakening the inspection program. “I’m a former mechanic, and I know people will not fix their cars if you simply suggest it,” stated Pat Fiumara on behalf of the NJGRA. “Vehicle inspection should not be left up to police officers to enforce when they pull drivers over. It’s just unrealistic.
AASP/NJ Past President Bob Everett agreed, citing human nature as a main reason why an amended vehicle inspection program would not work. “With the high cost of living right now, and gas nearing an all-time high, the motoring public will not spend money on vehicle repairs without fear of an inspection failure. To pretend that an advisory warning will prompt a fix is absurd. And to essentially ‘dumb down’ the inspection program in the name of saving a few dollars is equally ridiculous.”
“It would seem prudent to do all the math and explore all the options,” continued Everett. “The state has compiled evidence that the proposed plans would save money. However, has research been conducted to consider the number of jobs that will be lost, or what this amended inspection will cost the state in the long run?” the committee did not appear to have an answer for Everett.
Conspicuous in her absence was Chief Administrator Sharon Harrington, whose nonattendance was noted by many at the hearing. “I find it extremely disheartening that Ms. Harrington did not feel the need to be present this morning, considering the ultimate decision of this matter could adversely affect thousands of peoples’ livelihoods,” stated Everett during his address.
The hearing was concluded after an address from AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant, who provided attendees with technical information and a reinforcement of the belief that proposed inspection amendments could cost the state a great deal not only in finances, but in safety as well. Statements were taken and will be reviewed by the MVC; in the meantime, members of the auto repair industry as well as the motoring public are encouraged to submit their comments concerning proposed inspection amendments to the Commission until August 18, 2006. Comments should be directed to: Steven E. Robertson, Director, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Motor Vehicle Commission, 225 East State St., P.O. Box 162, Trenton, NJ 08666-0162.