Council considers options to speed up auto inspections

By Lori Brown and Janice Broach

Memphis City Council members debated Tuesday whether recent changes designed to speed up car inspections in Memphis are working.

Officials inside city government considered several options as they worked to determine how to make car inspection lines run even faster.  

One option is to exempt people with cars under three years old from having to get inspections.  But Public Services and Neighborhoods Director Janet Hooks says Memphis's long lines come down to a lack of capacity.

"When you look at our sister cities and the number of vehicles and the number of lanes, we are far below we are last on the list, when you look at Nashville-Davidson," Hooks said. "We do more cars that Chattanooga, we have less lanes to do it."

To help with the capacity problem, a new station will open on Appling Road within the next six months. Another solution could be adding the three full time and two temporary positions, which were cut during budget cuts.

As another option, Council member Bill Morrison introduced a plan that would eliminate the safety portion of Memphis auto inspections to concentrate solely on emissions.

"We would be waiving the safety inspection aspect of it and going to emissions only inspection," Morrision said.

Under the plan, inspections of such things as brakes, lights, and windshield wipers would be eliminated. Morrison says the police have incentives to make people take care of their car safety issues.

"Blinkers, head lights, tail lights...our police are already charged with writing tickets for all of that," he said.

But is not without opposition.  Council member Joe Brown said the idea was dangerous.

"I think our vehicular homicide rates would go up because unsafe automobiles are a danger to our citizens," Brown said.

Drivers we spoke with were split on the issue. Aubrey Boyd, who waited 45 minutes in line Tuesday for a car inspection, said the safety portions were important.

"If it's going to cause less accidents, I'm going to be safe in my car," he said. "No, I wouldn't mind waiting because that's my life saved."

But other drivers, like Joshua Sowell, said they were ready for shorter lines.

"It would be great," Sowell said. "It's extremely frustrating to get your car inspected. I used to live in Bartlett. I live in Memphis now. We didn't have to do that there."

Morrison's plan was sent to committee for discussion in two weeks.  At Tuesday night's Council meeting, Morrison said he would like to see it in effect by July 1.

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