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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Should More States Require Vehicle Safety Inspections?

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The average passenger vehicle nowadays weighs in the neighborhood of 4,000 pounds.  That’s two tons of metal and glass routinely traveling the highway at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.  As dangerous as that sounds, numerous safety features help protect motorists from catastrophe.  But even the most basic features such as brakes and power steering can’t help you if they don’t work.  That’s where regular safety inspections can come into play.

Some States Require Annual Inspections

Currently about 16 states and the District of Columbia require some type of annual or biennial vehicle safety inspection.  While regular, mandatory safety inspections sound like a good (albeit inconvenient) idea, they face a number of problems.  Probably the biggest issue is how state officials should assess new, high-tech safety equipment.  Without clear direction on how to consistently evaluate modern and ever-evolving features, many states are scaling back their programs, resulting in questionable benefit to motorists.

How Much Do Inspections Help?

In theory, vehicle inspections would identify safety problems that can then be repaired, resulting in safer vehicles on the road.  Statistically, however, equipment failure alone is the main cause in only about 5% or less of auto accidents.  Far more common causes include driver behavior (including distracted or impaired driving) and weather.  Even states that require inspections acknowledge the difficulty in determining how much inspections really help keep drivers safe.