If you read yesterday’s blog you will understand the PEI Motor Vehicle Inspection program began in 1969 with two very authoritative Sergeant Major types running the show. Now fast forward to 1975, I’m the store manager at the Charlottetown Firestone Store and yes , we are a PEI safety inspection centre. The inspectors are still around but the uniforms with buster brown belts are gone, also their over officious attitudes have been seriously modified. The safety program consisted of three windshield stickers, the approved one year safety inspection, A reject sticker, this allowed the driver to continue using his vehicle for an extra month while he had the necessary repairs done. Finally a bright red sticker that stated “Unsafe”. I had never had occasion to use this latter sticker but understood the need for such. One evening a young fellow drove a battered old Dodge onto the forecourt. He wanted a safety inspection done as the present sticker had long ago expired. I could tell just from looking at the car it would probably never pass. Nevertheless, we brought it in and put it on the hoist to have a look. When the weight came off the wheels the front left tie rod fell out of the ball socket. It was unnecessary to go any further and I explained this to the young driver. His car was very dangerous and should not go back on the road at least not before the tie rod was replaced. A new tie rod would probably cost more than the vehicle was worth. The danger was real, if I allowed this young man to drive out onto the road he could lose steering control and cause a serious accident, kill someone else or kill himself. He wanted me to tie the defective part with wire so he could drive home. I tried to explain I couldn’t do that and the car must remain here to be repaired or be towed. It certainly could not be driven in its present condition. I put an Unsafe sticker on the car, the owner went to call his father. All hell was about to break out!!! The father was outraged that I wouldn’t allow his son to drive the car. He phoned Motor Vehicle Safety and shortly after that an inspector arrived on the scene. I showed him the defective part still on the car and explained my reason for the unsafe sticker. He appeared unable to make a decision and finally said we never use the unsafe stickers, just put a rejected on the car and let the boy drive it home. Now it was my turn to be outraged, this was an obvious dangerous safety issue. Yet the very person who only a few short years ago was yelling about Thrush mufflers. Was now telling me not too rock the boat . I removed the unsafe sticker but flatly refused to replace it with a rejected sticker. I suggested the inspector do it himself, but he stammered that he wasn’t allowed to actually do inspections!! I resolved the situation by handing the ignition keys to the inspector, the car was standing out on the forecourt. No sticker of any kind was on the windshield and no repairs had been done by the Firestone Store. I went back into the store leaving the inspector and the father rapidly talking with arms swinging as each one tried to make their point. At six pm we closed up for the night, the car was still sitting outside but the inspector and owners were gone. When I returned the following morning the car was gone, whether it was driven or towed I would never find out. Much less did I care. The unsafe stickers remained as part to the inspection kit for as long as I was involved in the auto trade and may indeed still be available. I hope that today the Province have properly qualified motor vehicle safety inspectors that have the knowledge and courage to stand with the rules they have been hired to enforce. Why enforce mechanics to have a Provincial trade license in order to work if their advice is not to be heeded. I would like to believe and I certainly hope that today the safety standards are carried out as intended and licensed mechanics opinions are valued.
God Bless and keep reading