Lawmakers demand action on fraudulent vehicle inspections in Texas
As concerns arise about the possibility of millions of Texas vehicles obtaining legitimate license plates through the use of fraudulent safety and emissions inspections, a number of Texas lawmakers have called for swift action to address the issue.
Following an investigative report by NBC 5, which revealed that as many as 5 million Texas cars may have received “clean scans” through manipulated emissions tests, State Senator Royce West and State Representative Craig Goldman have both demanded answers from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) about why the state’s inspection computer system does not immediately block suspected fraudulent stations from passing cars.
NBC 5’s investigation found that although the state’s inspection computer system has the ability to detect fraud in real-time, the system is not programmed to immediately halt fraudulent inspections. Instead, inspection stations with red flags for fraud can continue to pass cars.
West has emphasized the need for the TCEQ to develop software that can detect and respond to fraudulent activities in real-time. He has also promised to address the issue with the agency that manages the inspection computer system.
The TCEQ confirmed that its current system is not programmed to alert law enforcement when suspected fraudulent inspections are entered into the system, but stated that it is working collaboratively with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop tools that can help identify and weed out fraud.
Goldman has expressed his intention to take swift action to address the problem and expressed his doubts about the effectiveness of the inspection system, saying he would prefer to scrap inspections altogether and place responsibility on drivers for ensuring their vehicles are safe.
Legitimate inspection stations have also expressed frustration with the fraudulent activities of other stations. The Texas State Inspection Association, of which Scott Morrisson is a board member, believes that good inspections are crucial to keeping families safe by ensuring that unsafe cars are not allowed on Texas roads.
However, if the widespread fraud within the inspection system is as significant as investigators suspect, it may be more difficult to determine whether inspections are having a meaningful impact on reducing crashes and deaths in Texas.
As lawmakers continue to investigate and seek solutions, several bills pending in the legislature may either eliminate inspections altogether or lengthen the time between required inspections. Although national research on the effectiveness of inspection programs has produced mixed results, the potential impact of fraudulent inspections on Texas roads makes the issue all the more pressing.