Automotive technology is evolving faster than the motor vehicle inspections designed to keep P.E.I. highways safe, and officials are moving to catch up.
Updates are coming to the Official Inspection Station Manual used to inspect cars and light trucks.
Doug MacEwen, safety coordinator with Highway Safety, said the current manual hasn't been updated since about the year 2000.
"We'll look at what they're doing in other jurisdictions, we'll see how it fits with our program, and then we'll get feedback from our technicians and then we'll go to work to develop an update to the program," said MacEwen.
"You're talking two years down the road."
Inspections required by law
Annual MVIs are mandatory on P.E.I. for cars and light trucks. They cost $30 — and that's if there's nothing wrong. If the mechanic finds a problem, he or she can't pass your car before repairs are complete.
Not passing inspection earns car owners the badge of shame: a red rejected sticker. Not getting it inspected at all earns owners a fine if caught by police.
In Canada, only P.E.I. and New Brunswick still require an annual vehicle inspection. Nova Scotia has gone to every two years. All other provinces generally only need an inspection when a car is sold.
MacEwen said P.E.I. is not considering moving away from annual inspections.
"It's all about the safety of the vehicle owner as well as other road users," he said.
"Some folks will disagree with that. It does cost them money and we understand that, but there's a price to pay for vehicle safety."
Other jurisdictions have seen problems
Fewer inspections means more responsibility for the owner to get things checked out, he added.
For example, he said, Newfoundland did away with mandatory inspections and now they're noticing many more unsafe vehicles on the roads.
The vehicle inspection is a snapshot of the condition of the vehicle, said MacEwen. The more snapshots throughout the year —between an oil change, seasonal tire change and inspections — the more the mechanic gets to know the vehicle.
He recommends even people who do their own maintenance get a second set of eyes on their car.
"It's the only time there is an actual certified technician under a lot of vehicles," he said.
The coming changes are for private cars and light trucks. Commercial vehicle inspection guidelines — for buses, trucks and large trailers —were updated in 2013.
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