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Bill seeks inspections for high-mileage cars

Hartford - The state's Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner said Wednesday she opposes mandatory inspections of vehicles with more than 100,000 miles, but said she'll ask whether the state's emissions testing vendor also could conduct cursory safety checks.

Commissioner Melody Currey told the General Assembly's Transportation Committee that two new vehicle inspections proposed by legislators - one for vehicles with more than 100,000 miles and another requiring annual safety checks for all cars and truck - are both unnecessary and potentially costly for the agency.

But Currey said the emissions vendor might be able to check seat belts, wiper blades, headlights and blinkers on 100,000-mile-plus vehicles. Issues such as whether existing computer programs used to record data about vehicle emissions could be modified to include the information collected from the safety check, would have to be investigated.

The potential cost also would have to be reviewed, she said.

"It would have to be done for free," Currey told lawmakers. "I'm not in favor of raising prices to do that inspection."

Currey plans to meet today with Rep. Tom Vicino, a Democrat from Clinton who proposed the bill requiring DMV to periodically inspect registered vehicles with an odometer mileage reading of more than 100,000 for safety purposes. Vicino, the owner-operator of Superior Auto in Westbrook, came up with the list of four items that should be checked: seat belts, wipers, headlights and directional signals.

Rep. Antonio "Tony" Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee, questioned the need for inspections of the higher mileage cars, pointing out how many vehicles built in the late 1990s and early 2000s can rack up 200,000 or 300,000 miles. He said his car has 150,000 miles on the odometer it didn't require replacement of the spark plugs until 100,000 miles.

"These cars are lasting a lot longer," he said.

The idea of periodic vehicle inspections has been proposed at the state Capitol for years. A 2007 report from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research found that while some other states require inspections of things like brakes and headlights, the factors contributing to accidents in Connecticut appear to be overwhelmingly driver-related or environmental.

Citing accident data compiled by the state Department of Transportation, the report found mechanical failure of a vehicle was listed as a contributing factor in 0.7 percent of the approximately 80,000 accidents reported each year. Unsafe or failed vehicle tires were listed as a contributing factor in 0.35 percent of all accidents.


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