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How The Government Shutdown Might Impact Road Safety

The New York Times reports that the government shutdown is currently the longest one ever. While essential services continue to run, there have already been reports that agencies that remain open are beginning to feel the strain. Many workers, including TSA personnel, are not being paid. This has led some workers to call out sick or to find work that will support their families. According to NBC News, a terminal at Houston’s airport has shut down because of a lack of staff. NBC News reports that the number of “no-shows” has increased by 2 percent. While government officials assure the public that their safety will not be compromised during the government shutdown, several programs responsible for overseeing public safety have been put on hold. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not be investigating defective vehicles.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not be conducting investigations into vehicle defects, nor will the agency be releasing notifications of recalls. The NHTSA also won’t be reviewing consumer complaints as long as the government remains shut down.

What does this mean for drivers? Under the law, companies are required to issue recalls when they learn about defects. So, companies can still voluntarily issue recalls if they see a major problem. However, without the agency overseeing recalls providing oversight, some safety experts believe that car companies won’t have the motivation to move quickly to protect the general public. As it is, companies have been known to delay in releasing information about known defects. Furthermore, one of the ways that companies learn about potential issues with vehicles is when the public makes complaints.

Consumer advocates worry that companies that may have been about to issue a recall may wait until the NHTSA re-opens. Others worry that the delay in new recalls while the agency is closed could potentially threaten people’s lives. According to the Detroit Free Press, the NHTSA was investigating 13 vehicle defects before the shutdown began. Until the government reopens, these investigations could remain in limbo.

What are some investigations that remain pending? Here are a few NHTSA open investigations:

  • Reports of injuries due to Chrysler vehicle steering failures. Individuals have claimed that they were injured after their vehicles suffered steering system failures.
  • Ford seat belt fires. Reports indicate that in crashes, seat belts have been known to spark, resulting in post-accident fires.
  • New Jersey school busses have been known to have seat belt failures.
  • More Kias and Hyundais have reportedly caught fire. NBC News reports that one million cars were recalled for another defect, and now these same cars are being investigated after consumers have made complaints that they are randomly catching fire. The companies reported that if the NHTSA determined that another recall was in order that the company would act. However, with the NHTSA currently off duty, any potential action is currently being delayed.
  • Jeep “death wobble.” At higher speeds, drivers have reported feeling a vibration in the steering wheel of their Jeeps. According to Fox News, the NHTSA was investigating whether the wobble posed a safety risk to the public.

These are just a few of the issues that the NHTSA was looking into. Unfortunately, consumers cannot always rely on companies to do the right thing and let them know when issues arise. In fact, many companies wait until the NHTSA requires them to issue a recall.

Companies that fail to issue recalls for known defects will still have to face the consequences of their actions, however. For example, any person injured due to a vehicle defect would still have the right to pursue a lawsuit against vehicle manufacturers. If you were hurt in an accident in Dallas, Texas and believe your accident was due to a vehicle defect, consider reaching out to the personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Gregg today. Our firm can review your case, file a complaint, and work to help you receive the recovery you may deserve from all negligent parties.