The state of Maine is considering a move that would eliminate the need for inspection stickers for automobiles that are younger than 20 years old, and it could open up debate about whether or not Massachusetts really needs annual stickers.

The requirement to bring your vehicle into an inspection station to pay for a new sticker each year is becoming more and more obsolete around the country. The list of states is growing smaller, with some only requiring a sticker after the vehicle changes hands or, like Rhode Island, every other year. A vast majority of states require no vehicle inspection at all.

Proponents of inspection stickers say that holding vehicles to standards prevents drivers from operating vehicles that are too dangerous to be on the road and need repairs to get them back in line. According to this study from 2017, however, traffic accidents in states that require vehicle inspection stickers were no more or less deadly than states that don't require them.

If this study is accurate, that would mean safety wouldn't be the reason Massachusetts would buck the trend and continue to impose safety inspection stickers on its residents. Presumably, the only reason that the annual tradition would continue would be because it is a straight-up money grab for the state. The state would need to find a new revenue source to make up for all of those stickers. That's not even taking into account the number of citations that are written for an expired sticker.

To be fair, the Registry of Motor Vehicles issued a joint statement with the Mass State Police last month announcing that they prefer police issue warnings rather than citations for out-of-date inspection stickers.

Could this be the first step to shaking the annual shakedown?

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