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A move to eliminate Utah's car-safety-inspection program stalled Tuesday.

HB319 was referred for study during the upcoming year on an 8-1 vote by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, reported last year that it can find no definitive evidence that state inspection programs reduce accidents, noting crash rates are about the same in states that have them as in those that do not.

He also noted that 16 states now require them, down from 31 in the mid-1970s.

Thurston said the $15 inspections cost Utahns a combined $25 million each year. His bill would "take a program that has no clear evidence that it's working," he said, "and move those resources where we can make a difference." He proposes providing more money for enforcement by the Utah Highway Patrol.

A long line of auto mechanics and inspection-store owners opposed the measure. They contend that statistics may be misleading, and they find and fix plenty of problems that could lead to accidents. They said many people also repair their cars before inspections, helping to keep the highways safe.

Utah requires $15 inspections in the fourth year of a car's life, the eighth year, the 10th year and annually thereafter. That was a compromise enacted in 2012 when then-Rep. John Dougall (now the state auditor) attempted to end Utah's program, which then was biennial through the eighth year, with annual checks thereafter.

— Lee Davidson