Maryland Auto Safety Update: D.C.-area Car Owners Now Exempt from Annual Vehicle Inspections

Will a recent decision by officials in Washington, D.C., to eliminate the annual vehicle inspections previously required of District residents result in more auto accidents, injuries and deaths? That’s a good question and one that will require at least a few years to assess. As Maryland car accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers, our first thought is for the safety of all drivers and pedestrians on this state’s roadways. Will cars owned by D.C. drivers be anymore accident-prone? Only a mechanic can know for certain.

A recent op-ed piece brought this to mind. Since a poorly-maintained vehicle is much more likely to have something go wrong, it would seem logical that we might see more accidents involving the vehicles driven by District of Columbia residents, such as failed brakes, incorrectly aimed headlamps, breakdowns on the highway and other traffic hazards.

As of October 1, citizens of Washington, D.C., will apparently have one less annual concern, but the rest of us may pay for it in increased accidents. According to reports, the District has ended its safety inspection program, although this doesn’t include anything related to a vehicle’s emission system — hence, emission inspections will continue as usual.

The District’s decision was reportedly made in an attempt to trim the cost of maintaining a car in the D.C. area, which will increase property taxes and also cut administrative costs. This supposedly will allow D.C. a better chance to tackle their budgetary issues.

To some, the elimination of the annual inspections is a drastic measure than may leave some wondering about the ultimate savings if, in fact, it leads to more accidents, stalled cars, and worse traffic tie-ups. Apparently, many safety experts have also expressed alarm at the prospect of un-inspected vehicles driving around the Maryland and Virginia landscape.

The District is apparently leaving any safety inspection requirements to local municipalities. Virginia is one of only 18 states that actually requires annual or biannual safety inspections, while here in Maryland the law requires a safety inspection only at the time that a car is sold.

The major concern here is, of course, safety on the road, which will impact drivers in multiple jurisdictions. All we can say is drive carefully when in D.C.

Editorial: Time for Inspection,, October 8, 2009

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