Motor Vehicle Safety:

NHTSA Should Resume Its Support of State Periodic Inspection Programs

RCED-90-175: Published: Jul 5, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) state motor vehicle inspection program, to determine whether: (1) a 1989 NHTSA report accurately represented the safety benefits of state inspection programs; (2) available evidence indicates that state inspection programs reduce accidents; and (3) NHTSA appropriately carried out its responsibilities regarding inspection programs.

GAO found that: (1) periodic inspection programs improve the condition of the safety-related components of vehicles subject to inspection; (2) accidents involving vehicle defects occur less often in states requiring periodic inspections; (3) state periodic inspection programs reduce the number of poorly maintained vehicles; (4) NHTSA issued a standard requiring states to inspect vehicles at least annually, and in 1973 issued specific standards for vehicle inspection; and (5) NHTSA intends to resume supporting periodic vehicle inspections.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) reviewed state periodic motor vehicle inspection (PMVI) programs and procedures, prepared a report on existing high technology inspection equipment, and conducted PMVI research. A uniform inspection guideline has been developed and is awaiting agency approval.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to support periodic motor vehicle inspection through such actions as sponsoring research that would assist states considering the initiation or reinstatement of inspection programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AAMVA completed its review of state PMVI programs and procedures. A uniform inspection guideline has been developed and is awaiting agency approval.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to support periodic motor vehicle inspection through such actions as assisting inspection states so that they share their experiences and adapt to changing automotive technology.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The AAMVA plan provides for developing a public PMVI information document.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to support periodic motor vehicle inspection through such actions as promoting public awareness of the need to properly maintain the safety-critical components of vehicles.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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