VEHICLE Inspection Service was initiated by many countries to drive process that ensure vehicles on roads meet required standard of safety, maintenance and control of carbon emission which can endanger human life. In 1977, the ‘Federal Clean Air Act’ was amended by Congress to require states to implement vehicle emissions inspection programs, known as I/M programs in all major metropolitan areas whose air quality failed to meet certain federal standards. In some countries, it is expected that brand new vehicles are subjected to various road checks or worthiness test before certification, after three years of use to secure people’s life from road threats associated with poor vehicular maintenance.
In the United States of America, for instance, each state is autonomous to its choice of Vehicles Safety Inspection that they deem fit to improve safety on their roads. Where vehicular inspection exercise is conducted in eighteen states on annual or biannual basis for safety depending of the category of vehicles involved. In Maryland for instance, vehicle safety inspection is conducted prior to registration or transfer of ownership only.
Though some States are now clamoring for abolishing safety inspection process due its inability to reduce accident on the highway, seeing it as avenue to merely generate revenue by their government. Meanwhile, in United Kingdom vehicle inspection is a mandatory annual test of safety, road worthiness and exhaust emission for vehicles above three years old. Accredited garages or service centers are approved to run comprehensive check, before certification. In Nigeria, the Vehicle Inspection Service (then Vehicle Inspection Office) has come of age from early 70s when the agency was responsible for conducting test as a necessity for the obtaining of drivers’ license, to issuing the license and some other major documents required to operate vehicles on roads. Traditionally, the officials of the agency conducted regular checks on motorists plying major roads, for expired vehicles’ documents along major accessories of standard vehicles. These may include dysfunctional system such as emission, headlamp, broken windscreen, side mirrors, indicators, break light, worn out tyres among others. It was a regular occurrence on roads to see motorists without relevant documents become apprehensive or jittery at the sight of vehicle inspection officers. The fear of being penalized have made some desperate drivers taken suicidal moves of escape from being arrested, thus threatening life of other road users, just in a bid to evade arrest.
While some had luckily escaped, others were not that lucky. The gravity of their violation determines penalty awarded against the motorist. On many occasions, vehicles have been impounded with demurrage incurred over the numbers of days such vehicles stayed in Vehicle Inspection until all penalties are paid. In worst scenarios, rickety vehicles were restricted to yard for owner to refurbish such vehicles until it is no longer a threat to the environment or other road users. Driving through a slow moving or near stop traffic before now could signal of Vehicle Inspection check ahead, especially during peak period. Hence, the fear of VIS officials was the beginning of wisdom.
The need to ingest the system with modern day technology, in line with the restructuring plan of the Lagos State government swept through the operations of Vehicle Inspection Service with the deployment of modern day technology, put in place to improve its efficiency.
Consequently, Inspection Officers were withdrawn from roads and trained on a new mode of operation, using the Automatic Number-plate Recognition (ANPR) system to track traffic offenders without direct contact. This system works with CCTV cameras which are now planted on major roads to capture and process plate numbers to identify authenticity as well as validity of vehicles documents. In this case, officials have no business chasing vehicle owners operating on Lagos roads with expired documents around.
It is now a matter of interfacing with their system in the comfort of their office and generating penalty for offenders. A more civilized approach to vehicles inspection has detached vehicle inspection officers from having direct confrontation or harassment from the public. In recent time, it was reported that vehicles belonging to some notable people in the society were captured to be on roads with expired document.