The Government Accountability Office’s auto safety report released earlier this month called for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to adjust its recall processes, noting significant “room for improvement” in how the U.S. handles auto recalls.
Our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys know that defective vehicles can lead to car accidents in Palm Beach and elsewhere. Consumers need to know where to find recall information so they know what to do if they have a recalled vehicle.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a non-partisan investigative division of Congress. It is often referred to as a “congressional watchdog” organization. It advises Congress and the leaders of executive agencies on ways to make government more ethical, efficient, equitable, effective and responsive.
Its work is done at the request of congressional committees/subcommittees or is ordered by public laws or committee reports. It embarks on research under the power of the Comptroller General.
The agency also supports congressional oversight by:
-Auditing agency operations to decide if federal funds are being spent effectively and efficiently.
-Investigating accusations of improper and illegal activities.
-Reporting on how effective government policies and programs are meeting their goals.
-Analyzing policy and recommending options for congressional consideration.
-Giving legal opinions and decisions, such as reports on agency rules and bid protest rulings.
Recently after the recalls of Toyota vehicles, the report asserts that Congress had unanswered questions regarding the auto safety defect recall process. The agency wondered if the NHTSA had enough oversight authorities and whether consumers were being effectively motivated to obey the recalls. Responding to Congress’ concerns, the GAO reviewed documents and laws and conducted interviews with NHTSA and stakeholders about the procedures of the recall process. The report indicated that 2010 was a record-breaking year for automobile recalls. Knowing this information, the GAO is concerned about what happens after those recalls are announced, noting that many vehicles never get fixed, which creates a hazard on our roadways. The report contends that the NHTSA doesn’t have the authority to inform potential used-car buyers of a defect, which poses a concern for buyers not aware of the recall.
The GAO report explained, “although recall completion rates vary considerably by certain factors, NHTSA has not consistently used the data it collects to identify which factors make some recalls more successful than others.” The GAO thinks the NHTSA recall notices don’t currently include sufficient information, and suggests the agency might rely too much on its website.
In conclusion, the GAO wants the NHTSA to:
-Make modifications to their requirements for notification letters.
-Make better use of its own data and automakers records.
-Ask for Congressional action to get the authority needed to notify used-car buyers of recalls.
Carfax, a provider of vehicle history reports, applauded GAO’s efforts to improve the recall process. They offer vehicle owners a free recall check at recall.carfax.com, Just enter your vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number to determine if there are any open recalls on your vehicle.
“Carfax is committed to ensuring consumers have all the vehicle information available to them that they need. We felt access to this open recall information was crucial, and we decided to make this information available free of charge when we started receiving it simply as a public service,” noted Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax.
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