Automobile safety is the study and practice of design, construction, equipment and regulation to minimize the occurrence and consequences of automobile accidents. Road traffic safety more broadly includes roadway design. One of the first formal academic studies into improving vehicle safety was by Cornell Aeronautical Labs of Buffalo, New York. The main conclusion of their extensive report is the crucial importance of seat belts and padded dashboards. However, the primary vector of traffic-related deaths and injuries is the disproportionate mass and velocity of an automobile compared to that of the predominant victim, the pedestrian.]citation needed[ In the United States a pedestrian is injured by an automobile every 8 minutes, and are 1.5 times more likely than a vehicle's occupants to be killed in an automobile crash per outing.
Improvements in roadway and automobile designs have steadily reduced injury and death rates in all first world countries. Nevertheless, auto collisions are the leading cause of injury-related deaths, an estimated total of 1.2 million in 2004, or 25% of the total from all causes. Of those killed by autos, nearly two-thirds are pedestrians. Risk compensation theory has been used in arguments against safety devices, regulations and modifications of vehicles despite the efficacy of saving lives.
Road transport (British English) or road transportation (American English) is the transport of passengers or goods on roads.
Vehicle inspection is a procedure mandated by national or subnational governments in many countries, in which a vehicle is inspected to ensure that it conforms to regulations governing safety, emissions, or both. Inspection can be required at various times, e.g., periodically or on transfer of title to a vehicle. If required periodically, it is often termed periodic motor vehicle inspection; typical intervals are every two years and every year. An inspection decal or inspection sticker is a type of sticker placed on the vehicle's windshield when it passes inspection. Inspection stations are places to drive inside to see if a vehicle passes inspection once a vehicle is due for inspection. Most US inspection decals/stickers display the month's number and the year.
In some jurisdictions, proof of inspection is required before a vehicle licence or license plate can be issued or renewed. In others, once a vehicle passes inspection, a decal is attached to the windshield, and police can enforce the inspection law by seeing whether the vehicle displays an up-to-date decal. In the case of a vehicle lacking a windshield (e.g., a trailer or motorcycle), the decal is typically attached to the vehicle body or license plate.
In the United States, vehicle safety inspection and emissions inspection are governed by each state individually. 17 states have a periodic (annual or biennial) safety inspection program, while Maryland and Alabama require a safety inspection prior to registration or transfer of ownership only. Nebraska requires safety inspection only upon newly arrived vehicles which were previously registered in another state. New Jersey discontinued its passenger vehicle safety inspection program on August 1, 2010.
Under the Clean Air Act (1990), states are required to implement vehicle emissions inspection programs, known as I/M programs (for Inspection and Maintenance), in metropolitan areas whose air quality does not meet federal standards. The specifics of those programs vary from state to state. Some states, including Kentucky and Minnesota, have discontinued their testing programs in recent years with approval from the federal government.
In New Zealand, a Warrant of Fitness (WOF; colloquially a warrant) is a document certifying that a light motor vehicle has passed a compulsory periodic inspection of safety and roadworthiness. Most vehicles with a gross mass of under 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb) which are used on public roads are required to undergo a WOF test annually until six years old, after which the vehicle must be tested six-monthly.
Vehicles over 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb), passenger service vehicles (taxis, buses, shuttles, etc.), and rental vehicles do not have a Warrant of Fitness. Instead, these vehicles must possess a Certificate of Fitness (COF). The COF test is similar to the WOF test, but must be undergone every six months regardless of the age of the vehicle.