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Drivers say new safety check process slower


A new electronic vehicle inspection system aimed at reducing fraud, errors and time spent on manually processing Hawaii licensed drivers’ data has made the procedure easier on the state and inspection stations, but some residents say it’s costing Big Island drivers time and money.

That was Hilo resident Mark Ferreira’s experience Monday afternoon, when he took his 2012 hybrid Prius to a local Chevron gas station for inspection.

“The problem is the time,” he said. “Back in the day, it would take 15 minutes, now it takes half-an-hour.”

The Hilo Chevron is among 700 gas stations, service stations, repair shops and new car dealerships throughout the state that received one free iPad for the program after the Hawaii Department of Transportation required all service stations to transition into an electronic system on Nov. 1 of last year.

According to Jasmine Heen, supervisor for Chevron in Hilo, with only one iPad available per station, the process seems to be taking longer.

“We take it by appointment now. We could do five or more within an hour’s time. Now we can only do one at a time,” she said.

And Chevron isn’t the only station adopting an appointment-based system for what used to be a drop-in service.

Bill Croon, a mechanic at Aiona Car Service & Repairs, said their shop has had to make some adjustments as well.

“You could do two inspections at once,” he said. “Now the shops have to plan ahead, making sure to schedule people one at a time.”

Since the change took effect, Stan Imaino, motor vehicle control inspector on the Big Island, said the inspection and business process has become more efficient.

“Now that everything is electronic, everything is instantaneous. Biggest problem we had is that everything was randomly sent via mail and would take three to four months to process. Now it takes one day,” Imaino said.

Making the process easier was one of the motives for the transition. According to a document from HDOT, processing the forms manually was “time-consuming for the inspection stations” and was “prone to errors and legibility issues… ”

But for Ferreira and other Big Isle drivers, the new system has had a different effect and is costing them almost $5 more per inspection.

According the HDOT’s website, the state increased vehicle safety inspection fees by $4.49 plus tax for all vehicles including motorcycles, pickup trucks, and trailers in order to supplement the cost of the transition, with $1.70 of the fee going toward HDOT for “administration and enforcement of the program,” $1.69 going to the company providing the equipment and technical support for the new electronic system, and the remaining $1.10 going toward the service stations.

Vehicle safety inspection fees haven’t increased since the 1980s.

Although Ferreira said he recognizes there are some benefits to the new system, his 82-year-old father, Harold Ferreira, begs to differ.

“I say scrap the whole program,” he said. “It’s just a way for the state to make money.”

HDOT, Motor Vehicle Safety Office, in cooperation with the City of Honolulu’s Department of Motor Vehicles, administers the program.

According to Nancy Crawford, finance director with Hawaii County Department of Finance, the state typically processes 11,000-13,000 inspections each month from Hawaii Island.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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