Safety-check reminders halted because of costs


POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

QUESTION: Why doesn't the city send drivers a reminder of when their safety stickers are going to expire? I just got a $70 fine for an expired safety sticker that I didn't even know had expired. Had I known, I would have gone to get a new one. They should figure out a way to combine safety checks and registration renewals so that you get the reminder at the same time.

ANSWER: There was a time when safety inspection notices were sent to motor vehicle owners, but that practice ended about eight years ago because of cost.

Apparently, a large number of the notices were being returned as undeliverable.

A state Department of Transportation motor vehicle safety official pointed out that Section 286-26 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes requires motor vehicles to be inspected, but it does not require the state to send reminder notices to owners.

“;Keeping track of the expiration date of the inspection is the responsibility of the vehicle owner,”; he said.

The counties administer the “;periodic vehicle inspection program”;—aka safety check—on behalf of the Department of Transportation.

“;Combining the safety check expiration date with the vehicle registration expiration would be an extremely difficult task to keep during a vehicle's lifetime,”; said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city's Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division.

He pointed out that people also forget to renew their vehicle registration, even when notices are sent to their last known address.

QUESTION: I have seen various plans for the public schools to cut costs to comply with Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to balance the budget. One plan involves shortening the number of student days per year. Isn't there a state law that requires students to have at least 180 instructional days per year? Can you please clarify?

ANSWER: The figure does not come from state law, but 180 is the standard number of instructional days adopted by 48 states.

We checked with the Department of Education, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the director of the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the University of Hawaii's College of Education, and no one could say exactly how that number was derived.

According to Department of Education spokeswoman Sandy Goya, the official DOE school calendar sets the maximum number of days of classroom instruction—180—as specified in the current contract between the teachers union and the state Board of Education.

Asked if there was nothing else, such as standards set by the Department of Education, that specifies how many days students should be in school, she answered, “;Correct.”;

Meanwhile, the HSTA said its contract with the Board of Education specifies that teachers report to duty and get paid for 190 days a year. The 180 days wasn't a negotiated element, according to a spokesman.

Initially, it was thought that the 180 days was set by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits public and private schools, colleges and universities in the Western region of the United States.

However, the association said it did not have anything to do with setting that standard figure.