Podcast: Tzitzon Details Little-Known Story of the Former Job of Registry of Motor Vehicle Inspector

From the cover of “The History of The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle Inspector” by Jim Tzitzon.

Those Massachusetts residents securing driver’s licenses prior to 1992 may remember having a state Registry of Motor Vehicles inspector as a passenger.

Haverhill native James Tzitzon, who started his career as an inspector before becoming a state police trooper, tells the little-known story of how and why that position was eliminated in a consolidation with the Massachusetts State Police. His new book, “The History of The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle Inspector,” details the inside story.

“We had different regulatory duties, responsibilities to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, with licensing, investigations, assisting the public, public relations, all those aspects. Investigating serious fatal accidents,” he says.

Tzitzon was a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program.

“The book is about 277 pages long, and I have graduation pictures from the many academy classes throughout the years. Old pictures of the old handheld radios that the Registry got. Different pictures from before we had uniforms. The inspector back then would wear a top coat and have a badge on his lapel,” he explains.

The job of inspector with the Registry of Motor Vehicles came into existence in 1907.

“In the 1900s, we came about as a result of the horseless carriage. What people don’t know is that in Massachusetts alone there were over 200 manufacturers of horseless carriages. With more and more of those on the roads, the state figured they needed to have some regulation, to regulate those and give licenses and registration plates. So, we developed from two people up to finally 257 at the end of our existence,” he says.

Tzitzon says efforts to eliminate the inspector’s job date back to 1965, but the legislature didn’t approve it until 1991 and the consolidation, which Tzitzon says didn’t go smoothly, took effect a year later.

“At the time we had close to 300 and some chose to retire. We ended up with 257 that actually transferred over and, interestingly enough, the registrar got nervous when he realized we were going to lose all the knowledge that we had gained all those years and had. So, he asked several inspectors to stay behind. So, there were 11 registry inspectors that chose not to transfer over to the State Police but stayed behind with the Registry and handle the hearings and make sure the Registry could walk again,” he remembers.

Tzitzon took several years to write “The History of The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle Inspector” and finished it last year. It contains the names of all inspectors and the various positions and functions of the inspector, as well as stories provided by former and retired inspectors. It includes many photographs taken throughout the nearly 100 years of service provided to the Commonwealth by the registry inspectors.

The book, published through Online Book Publishers, is now available through LULU publishing and Amazon in three formats, eBook, softcover and hardcover.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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