There’s no evidence New Hampshire motorists are safer because the state mandates that vehicles undergo a yearly safety inspection, says a state representative who is preparing legislation to ease that requirement.
Rep. Casey Conley says under his proposal, a yearly computer check would still be required to make sure a vehicle’s emission system was operating properly, but safety items like brakes, tires and lights would not have to be examined.
“New Hampshire is in the minority of states that have these safety inspections,” the Dover Democrat said in a telephone interview.
A 2015 report of the U.S. General Accounting Office said 16 states required annual safety inspections. New Hampshire was the only state among the 16 that did not participate in the GAO study.
Conley said he hopes to gain bipartisan support for his bill, but he expects opposition from businesses and people who sell and service vehicles.
“The current inspection regime hits lower-income residents the hardest and the overall benefit of the safety inspection is unclear or are hard to prove, considering states in the Midwest with similar demographics and weather have similar or better crash data statistics,” Conley said. “That suggests to me that the inspection in and of itself in NH is not a significant contributor to road safety.”
Daniel Goodman, a spokesman for AAA Northern New England, said his organization supports annual safety inspections.
“These inspections are intended to detect mechanical and safety defects that, if left uncorrected, could cause or contribute to the cause of a traffic crash,” he said. “Ensuring all the clunkers and risky cars are off the roads keeps the driving public safer."
Peter McNamara, president of the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association, has said vehicle safety inspections protect the public.
"According to the 2017 DMV statistics, over 54,720 cars failed for bad tires," he said. "To pass, tire tread depth must be at least the thickness of a penny. Over 81,905 vehicles failed for inadequate brakes. To pass, a brake pad must be at least 1/16th of an inch thick to provide proper stopping power.