NHTSA's recommended Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 1
Periodic Motor Vehicle Inspection
Each State should have a program for periodic inspection of all registered vehicles to reduce the number of vehicles with existing or potential conditions that may contribute to crashes or increase the severity of crashes that do occur, and should require the owner to correct such conditions.
I. An inspection program would provide, at a minimum, that:
A. Every vehicle registered in the State is inspected at the time of initial registration and on a periodic basis thereafter as determined by the State based on evidence of the effectiveness of inspection programs.
B. The inspection is performed by competent personnel specifically trained to perform their duties and certified by the State.
C. The inspection covers systems, subsystems, and components havingsubstantial relation to safe vehicle performance.
D. Each inspection station maintains records in a form specified by the State, which includes at least the following information:
- Class of vehicle.
- Date of inspection.
- Make of vehicle.
- Model year.
- Vehicle identification number.
- Defects by category.
- Identification of inspector.
- Mileage or odometer reading.
E. The State publishes summaries of records of all inspection stations at least annually, including tabulations by make and model of vehicle.
II. The program should be periodically evaluated by the State and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should be provided with an evaluation summary.
Whereas advocates of annual safety inspections cite results of studies performed in Pennsylvania and Missouri, a similar study performed in Norway showed no safety benefits from requiring annual inspections, NHTSA said.
In their combined comments from July 20, 2012, the RMA and TIA cited the Pennsylvania and Missouri studies, and also noted that only 19 states have any safety inspection requirements at all.