Public Choice

, Volume 113, Issue 3–4, pp 367–387 | Cite as

The Political Economy of Automobile Safety Inspections

  • Daniel Sutter
  • Marc Poitras


Studies of traffic safety typically assumethat policies are adopted to further thepublic interest, thereby ignoring thepolitical motives for policy. Sincepolitical motives can influence the designor enforcement of policies, accounting forpolitical motives has relevance forevaluating policy effectiveness. Weexamine the political motives concerning afrequently-studied traffic safety policy: state-mandated vehicle safety inspection. We distinguish between public interest andspecial interest explanations for safetyinspection. Our econometric models examinethe incidence of inspection across states,and determinants of regulated inspectionfees. The evidence strongly rejects apublic interest explanation, but specialinterest hypotheses also do not proveentirely satisfactory. Since recentstudies find that inspections fail toimprove highway safety, we attribute thecontinued existence of inspection programsto political transaction costs rather thanto the demands of interest groups.


Transaction Cost Political Economy Public Finance Interest Group Public Interest 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Sutter
    • 1
  • Marc Poitras
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OklahomaNormanU.S.A
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of DaytonDaytonU.S.A

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