HARLINGEN — The University of Texas is seeking respondents for an online poll to determine how the state’s drivers view the annual Vehicle Safety Inspection Program.

Last year the Texas Senate voted 27-4 to eliminate the inspection process, calling it nothing more than a tax on state residents. Texas Senate Bill 1588 would have scrapped the inspections but the bill languished and then died in the House.

Now UT researchers are trying to gauge public support — or lack thereof — for the annual rite of taking your car or truck in for a $7 safety check.

The questions in the survey ask if it improves highway safety, whether it takes too much time and whether you’ve had to pay for repairs after failing an inspection.

It also asks respondents to weigh the inspection process benefits versus cost.

The survey is being conducted by the UT Center for Transportation Research. Last year, the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the inspection program, was ordered by legislators to perform a study to document the cost and safety impact of the mandatory inspections.

Dr. Michael Murphy, deputy director of the UT Center for Transportation Research, said via email yesterday he could not comment on preliminary findings of the survey before it has been presented to DPS.

Debate in Austin last year involved Texas lagging behind the rest of the country, some senators said. Most states have eliminated vehicle inspections and Texas remains one of only 15 states that still require them.

Not all senators last year were in favor of ending the inspection program, which was instituted in 1951.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said he opposed the measure because mechanics assigned to vehicle inspections could be out of a job.

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Do you think having a Vehicle Safety Inspection Program improves highway safety in Texas?

Do you think that having your vehicle inspected annually helps improve highway safety?

Do you think having your vehicle inspected takes too much time?

Do you think vehicles on the road that have defects (e.g., slick tires, bad brakes, head or tail lights out, signal lights not working, steering problems) could contribute to an accident? 

Do you think for the benefits and value you receive, the cost of a Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection is: 

If you have had repairs or purchased replacement parts as a result of a Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection, what types of repairs or replacement parts were needed?