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Our analysis suggests that a properly designed and implemented safety inspection program for motor vehicles would probably produce benefits in excess of costs, whereas most existing state programs probably produce costs well in excess of benefits. That these findings are somewhat inconclusive is both regrettable and unnecessary: the data required to carry out a satisfactory evaluation of alternative safety inspection program designs are obtainable. Unfortunately, serious policy-relevant empirical research is costly; for that reason, more conclusive findings may never be available.