While National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) employees who investigate safety complaints and order automakers to recall vehicles are on furlough due to the government shutdown, recalls from the agency have ceased.
In response to a request for comment, the public affairs department of the U.S. Department of Transportation said: “Due to the shortage of support staff due to the lapse in funding, there will be a delay in processing your request.”
“Safety is being undermined,” says Joan Claybrooke, who was the head of NHTSA during the Cater administration, according to a recent report.
“If unsafe cars are on the highway, if the agency isn’t operating so it can’t put out consumer alerts, if it can’t finish up a recall notice that it wants to publish or negotiate with an auto company … that puts the public at risk,” she adds. “And that could go on and on. Who knows where this is going to end.”
NHTSA is required by law to cease auto investigations during a government shutdown, according to Meghan Keck, a transportation department spokesperson.
“Automakers can continue to publicize their own recalls and consumers can continue to submit concerns through our SaferCar.gov site, which we will pursue once the shutdown is over,” she adds.
The hold in recalls could have an impact on the AGRR industry. In September, Volvo Trucks North America issued a recall through NHTSA affecting 22,824 trucks for possible windshield wiper failure. Earlier this year, Toyota Motor issued a recall through NHTSA, affecting an estimated 1.15 million vehicles for windshield wiper and airbag defects.
And late last year, a recall on certain model-year 2012 Hyundai Veloster vehicles was issued through NHTSA for potentially exploding sunroofs.