And here we have yet another reason to loathe the government shutdown: it’s halted vehicle safety notices, recalls, and other activity that helps keep the public safe on the road. The number of auto-related safety recalls has all but stopped at this point, and the only way a car safety recall is getting out is if the automakers issue them voluntarily.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration typically takes care of this important stuff, but the government shutdown has left it unable to do its job. With a little over half its employees having been furloughed, the NHTSA is about as ineffective as the National Institutes of Health, another institution whose operations have nearly been halted by the shutdown.
Department of Transportation Woes
Since the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is part of the Department of Transportation, it’s hit with the same limitations that have been brought down on the federal government as a result of the shutdown. Their operations have been severely scaled back, with 333 out of 597 employees furloughed.
As the LA Times explains:
“Traditionally, announcing vehicle recalls is the duty of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation. Like many government-funded entities, NHTSA has had to dramatically curtail its operations since the federal government shut down on Tuesday.”
What You’ll Be Missing Out On
So what exactly will we be missing with the NHTSA down by about half of its employees? A lot of things, actually. Not only is the NHTSA responsible for issuing and announcing vehicle recalls, but it’s also in charge of testing new cars to make sure they meet safety ratings and other important benchmarks.
The NHTSA also investigates defects and reviews complaints from the public about cars. When recalls need to be renewed, the NHTSA does that, too. They also research safety information and comb through all the information provided by automakers when a complaint is lodged by the public.
As you can see, it’s really not a good thing that America has to go without a lot of the NHTSA’s operations until the government can get its act together.
Who’s Paying for It Now?
Currently, the NHTSA is running with a skeleton crew, and it’s taking care of as many safety issues as it’s able to in its current weakened state.
Right now, the Highway Trust Fund is basically footing the bill for whatever the NHTSA is actually able to accomplish during the extended government shutdown.
The Highway Trust Fund was created to draw money from a federal tax that’s put on every gallon of gas someone buys at the pump.
As of August, the Highway Trust Fund had just under five billion dollars in it, which means that we should be fine — provided that the government resumes actually operations sometime within the near future.
Share Info in the Comments
Do you know anything else about the NHTSA, vehicle recalls, and the government shutdown? Information always helps, so be sure to leave any helpful comments below.
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