Release: New Analysis Highlights Futility of Maine’s Vehicle Inspection Program



March 25, 2021
Contact: Jacob Posik
Director of Communications
Office: 207.321.2550

New Analysis Highlights the Futility of
Maine’s Vehicle Inspection Program

Decades of research show these programs do not make roadways safer.

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Policy Institute released a new analysis today titled “Sticker Shock: Maine’s Burdensome Vehicle Inspection Mandate.” The analysis draws on decades of motor vehicle accident and fatality data from across the country to conclude Maine’s 90-year-old vehicle inspection program has outlived its usefulness and fails to deliver its intended results.

Data from across the country show the presence of a vehicle inspection mandate does not make roadways safer. Vehicle component failures are responsible for a tiny proportion of automobile accidents, and there is no statistically significant difference in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities between states with or without an inspection requirement. Similarly, the data show inspection requirements do not correlate with lower automobile insurance rates.

In Maine, between 2015 and 2019, the Maine Department of Transportation found that only 3% of car accidents involved a mechanical issue. Speeding, distracted driving and driving while impaired are responsible for far more accidents and fatalities on our roads and highways, problems that cannot be solved with an inspection requirement. 

Mandatory vehicle inspections cost Maine drivers more than $14 million per year in fees and time wasted getting their vehicles inspected. The costs associated with operating and maintaining a motor vehicle are often linked to poverty, as low-income individuals spend a larger share of their income on transportation and motor vehicle expenses. Policymakers should do all they can to keep these costs low to allow low-income Mainers to move their way up the economic ladder.

Maine is currently one of 15 states that require annual vehicle safety inspections. Five others require biennial inspections. Maine law already designates operating a “defective vehicle” as a Class E crime. This provision of law does not need to be tied to an inspection requirement for it to be enforced by the Maine State Police.

Proponents of Maine’s inspection program, namely those who stand to profit from its existence, claim an inspection requirement is necessary because of the salt and chemicals the state uses to maintain its roads during the cold winter months. However, winter conditions haven’t stopped states like Michigan, Alaska and Colorado – which receive an average of more than 60 inches of snowfall per year – from repealing their inspection mandates.

“The only reasonable way to measure Maine’s vehicle inspection program is by its impact on road safety, said Nick Murray, policy analyst and lead author of the report. “Extensive research over four decades shows that mandatory inspections have no significant effect on crashes or fatalities. It’s time to scrap this unnecessary, regressive mandate on Maine drivers.”

The Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee recently voted “Ought Not to Pass” on a number of bills that would repeal or reform the state’s vehicle inspection mandate, with the exception of one bill, LD 284, which was tabled. This bill would reform the program to require an inspection every other year instead of annually.

During today’s meeting of the Transportation subcommittee that is reviewing changes to the inspection program, members expressed support for moving to a biennial inspection program and potentially eliminating the requirement for new vehicles, and those under warranty, to be inspected. 

“While repealing Maine’s vehicle inspection program in its entirety would be ideal, moving to a biennial inspection program is better than what exists today, said CEO Matthew Gagnon. “The data is clear that these regulations do not make our roads safer or result in less accidents and fatalities. If the legislature decides to move in this direction, we’re confident future data will support the program’s complete elimination.”

To read the analysis, click here.


Maine Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts detailed and timely research to educate the public, the media, and lawmakers about public policy solutions that advance economic freedom and individual liberty in Maine. Learn more about our work at