Today I was able to waste 2 hours and almost $50 to go through the annual right of passage here in Virginia -- the annual vehicle safety inspection and the bi-annual vehicle emissions inspection.
Virginia isn't the only state that has these things. I know New York does as well (I grew up there). Maryland only has safety inspections as part of a sale of the car (including re-sales of used cars) (at least that's what they had when I lived there).
What I want to know is has someone done a cost benefit analysis that shows there is some positive value obtained from this program? I didn't see any more cars involved in accidents or sitting on the side of the road in Maryland than I do here in Virginia (and, in the far distant past, I volunteered in a local rescue squad in both states, so I had been to many, many accidents -- none of which were obviously caused by mechanical deficit).
I've been in Virginia for 20 years now and been married for more than 17 years where we've had 2 or 3 cars the entire time. I've NEVER had one of these inspections fail (it may be because I've tended to only keep cars for 3 or 4 years).
Perhaps there could be some form of waiver program for vehicles with low mileage (my current truck -- a Chevy Colorado -- is 2 years old and only has 16K miles and, of course, passed the inspection). Perhaps cars less than 4 years old and having less than say 30K miles shouldn't have to be inspected. I'm sure a good statistician could come up with the right figures that would bring this into the right risk/reward balance.
Even if most people don't wait as long as I did (and I don't think that is the case from past experience -- the only way to not wait is to drop off the car the night before and hope they get to it the next day or to be very lucky on a drive by in the middle of the month) and only half the people in the state have a car, that's still like millions and millions of hours of wasted productivity and millions of wasted $$.