Effectiveness of Vehicle Safety Inspections Neither Proven Nor Unproven

CED-78-18: Published: Dec 20, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1977.

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Congress has a recommendation from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that it no longer require periodic motor vehicle safety inspections in accordance with federal standards as part of each state's approved highway safety program. The question of whether Congress should make safety inspections mandatory or optional in state highway programs has grown out of a decade of controversy between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and many states.

Only three states reported full compliance with the federal inspection quality standards as of July 1977. NHTSA threatened use of sanctions against state highway programs not implementing the standards led to confrontations and eventually created an atmosphere which led Congress to temporarily lift the authority to impose funding sanctions until DOT studied the adequacy and appropriateness of highway safety program standards.

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