Car light checks cut due to costs

WHY DON’T WE DO SAFETY INSPECTIONS? Charles L. emails “over the years I’ve noticed about one out of 10 cars in Albuquerque has a tail light or headlight or brake light out. Why don’t we do like Texas does and check all car lights when they do an emissions check? They also do a brake check.”

In fact, Texas and 16 other states require an annual or biennial safety inspection of vehicles. Maryland and Alabama require them upon sale or transfer of title.

And New Mexico used to. But it boiled down to $1.

I wrote about this back in 2015, when a reader shared that “New York state required a complete vehicle inspection every year or perhaps two by a licensed inspection station. Anything that failed had to be fixed before your vehicle could be driven. This kept rattletrap vehicles off the road, and logic tells me that this should reduce both accidents and insurance rates. Has anyone done a study to verify if this logic is true?”

A 2009 study for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found “states with vehicle safety inspection programs have significantly less fatal crashes than states without programs. The benefits of the program as derived from all three models exceed the user costs of the program. The results of the research clearly demonstrate that the Vehicle Safety Inspection program in Pennsylvania is effective and saves lives.”

(FYI that didn’t stop the Texas Senate from voting 27-4 last year to dump inspections for personal vehicles; the bill did not make it to the House floor. Texans still pay $7 a year to have their vehicles inspected, which comes to about $140 million annually, according to The Texas Tribune.)

Back to New Mexico. In that 2015 column Michael Wiener, the former Bernalillo County commissioner who was a public information officer for the New Mexico Division of Motor Vehicles in the 1970s, explained that state law back in the 1950s had set the cost of a vehicle inspections at $1. Shops said they couldn’t afford to do comprehensive inspections – including pulling wheels off to inspect brakes – for just a buck. But rather than raise the price, he explained, the 1976 Legislature phased the inspections out June 30, 1977.

PASEO SET FOR NEW STRIPING: Recently Nancy Madigan called to report the striping on eastbound Paseo at Louisiana was so worn it couldn’t be seen either in bright sun or headlights.

Kimberly Gallegos, who handles information for the New Mexico Department of Transportation District 3 office, says “Paseo del Norte and Louisiana will be restriped in early July!”

CENTRAL/CARLISLE SIGNAL UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Henry Shapiro recently emailed “now that the construction of ART is (almost) finished, they need to make a few adjustments to the lights. The left-turn arrow for turning north on to Carlisle from Central while heading east on Central is VERY short. Even the second car barely makes it through the light. The light does not seem to have a camera that makes it sensitive to the amount of traffic. I’ve been in line to go left onto Carlisle several times when the line is five or six cars deep. It has taken several light cycles to make it through. They either need to make the left-turn arrow time longer or put in a sensor.”

City spokesman Johnny Chandler says “the Department of Municipal Development is working diligently to implement the HDR proposal on the signal timing along the ART route. HDR is in the process of studying traffic, adjusting signal timing as needed and to make driving, walking and cycling along Central Avenue an improved experience for all community members.”

And things will likely need to change again once the ART buses start running.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.