Commentary

Time to Do Away With Inspection Stickers

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Tired of being forced to have your car inspected every year? Do you think the only beneficiaries of Maine’s inspection program are car mechanics and government bureaucrats?

We all know how it works. Your inspection sticker is about to expire. You bring your car to the dealership, where the mechanic tells you it’s going to need $500 in repairs before it’ll pass inspection. Wanting a second opinion, you drive to another mechanic. He wants to charge you $250, so you bring it to one more garage and they give you a sticker, no questions asked. Meanwhile, your car is only a few years old and there’s nothing wrong with it. After three inspection fees and hours of wasted time, you drive off, relieved that this useless ordeal is only necessary once a year.

Now’s your chance to have your voice heard in Augusta.

This session, two bills have been introduced in the Legislature to modify the vehicle inspection program. The first, LD 623, would only require motorists to get their cars inspected every two years instead of annually. A public hearing on this bill will be held on Friday, March 17th at the State House. The second, LD 787, would repeal the vehicle inspection requirement entirely; a public hearing on this proposal is scheduled for Thursday, March 23rd.

Maine belongs to the shrinking minority of states that still have inspection requirements. Today, only 16 states require annual inspections. Since 2000, three states and the District of Columbia have repealed their inspection programs as lawmakers have become aware that no evidence exists that annual inspections promote public safety or reduce motor vehicle accidents.

Of the six rigorous studies examining vehicle safety inspection programs published since 1990, not a single one found a statistically significant difference in crash rates, fatalities, or injuries between states with and without inspection programs.

In one study, researchers in Pennsylvania intentionally created 13 defects in a brand new car prior to inspection. Among the several garages they visited, the average detection rate of real defects was 37 percent. Interestingly, while mechanics on average only found 5 of the 13 defects, they also “found” an average of 2 non-existent defects.

Please email the members of the Committee on Transportation and urge them to support these bills. A list of committee members, with contact information, is available here.

About Liam Sigaud

Liam Sigaud is a Policy Analyst at The Maine Heritage Policy Center. A native of Rockland Maine, he holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Maine at Augusta, and is an experienced researcher within the health policy field.

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