Testimony: Exempting New Vehicles From Inspection Requirements


Testimony in Support of LD 1587: “An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicle Inspection Law to Exempt Certain Motor Vehicles Less than 3 Years Old”

Senator Chipman, Representative Williams, and the distinguished members of the Committee on Transportation, my name is Nick Murray and I serve as director of policy for Maine Policy Institute. We are a free market think tank, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on LD 1587.

This question has been endlessly studied, even by the federal government. Inspection programs are not correlated with greater roadway safety in states which have them versus states which do not. A 2015 report from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) that reviewed six rigorous studies examining vehicle safety inspection programs found no statistically significant difference in crash rates, fatalities, or injuries between states with and without inspection programs. 

Maine drivers spend an estimated $16 million in stickers and vehicle maintenance—and countless hours—getting their vehicles inspected each year, despite the absence of evidence that mandated inspections increase safety or reduce the number of accidents and injuries on our roads and highways. Because of this, state vehicle inspection mandates should simply not exist for non-commercial vehicles.

But, if inspections are to remain in law, the program should be administered with common sense. This includes exempting young vehicles from the mandate, whether they be three, five, or ten years old. Any measure to this effect would be prudent for this Legislature. 

To date, a majority of states do not require vehicle inspections for safety. Only 20 states still have these laws on the books and five of them, including California, Colorado and Rhode Island, require them only every two years.

Opponents will say that any change to the inspections program would lead to people driving cars which are falling apart, an absurd hyperbole which, of course, they contend means roads are less safe. Their claim demands real scrutiny. 

 Vehicular mechanical failures are such a minor factor in collisions that the Maine Department of Transportation just started including them in their crash statistics report in the last decade. Of course, there is potential for a crash to be caused by more than one factor, but the report shows little more than 3% of the accidents from 2015 to 2019 involved a vehicular issue. Those involving tire, wheel, steering, suspension, transmission, or brake issues made up only 1.75% of the five-year total published in the most recent report.

Additionally, state law provides a mechanism to keep roads safe from dangerous vehicles. Title 29-A, section 1768, subsection 5 designates the authority of the State Police to determine if a driver is operating a “defective vehicle,” including paragraph B which states, “A person who violates this subsection commits a Class E crime if the vehicle is unsafe for operation because it poses an immediate hazard to an occupant of the vehicle or the general public.” Simply put, Maine State Police do not need a vehicle inspection requirement to maintain safety on the roads.

Please deem LD 1587 “Ought To Pass” and begin to remove the multitude of ineffective ways Mainers are nickel-and-dimed by their government in the name of “safety.”. Thank you for your time and consideration.