SAFE CARS Act Protects Federal Employees by Requiring Unsafe Agency Vehicles be Repaired and Tackles Sales of Dangerous Vehicles by U.S. Government

For Immediate Release
March 26, 2021
Contact: Jason Levine, [email protected] or 202-328-7700
SAFE CARS Act Protects Federal Employees by Requiring Unsafe
Agency Vehicles be Repaired and Tackles
Sales of Dangerous Vehicles by U.S. Government
The Center for Auto Safety Applauds New Bill Requiring
Federal Agencies to Prioritize the Safety of Federal Employees and
Consumers With Respect to Recalled Government Vehicles

For years, the Federal Government has been knowingly selling dangerous recalled vehicles to the public. During that period federal employees across the country have been forced to use dangerous recalled vehicles as part of their job, putting their lives, and the lives of everyone on the road, at risk.No employer, or seller, should knowingly allow for the use, or sale, of unsafe vehicles. This applies doubly to the Federal Government. Today, with the introduction of the SAFE CARS Act, by Representatives Krishnamoorthi, Schakowsky, and Reschenthaler, the public is a significant step closer to no longer being put in danger by the sale of used government vehicles with deadly safety defects.

Equally as important, the SAFE CARS Act protects the hundreds of thousands of federal employees across all agencies who use government vehicles every day in the course of their public service. This bill, if enacted, will require federal agencies to repair vehicles which have open safety recalls before putting the lives of federal employees at unnecessary risk.

“There is no reason for the Federal Government to be trafficking in dangerous unrepaired vehicles under recall, yet that is the case today. Federal employees, and everyone with whom they share the road, are being put at risk daily by the tens of thousands of recalled vehicles they are forced to drive,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees vehicle recalls, takes the position that all recalls are serious and should be repaired as quickly as possible. Importantly, there are no cosmetic recalls. Safety recalls are only undertaken by manufacturers because the vehicle has a safety defect which can impair safe operation or the vehicle does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.

Levine continued: “Appallingly, federal agencies are focusing on the money to be made from selling these dangerous vehicles to the public, even when repairs are available. Exploding Takata airbags, malfunctioning fuel pumps, or engines which catch on fire while being driven are examples of the types of recalled defects which can, and have, caused crashes, injuries, and deaths. For years, the Center for Auto Safety has raised the issue of the Federal Government using and then selling recalled cars, despite being able to repair these defective vehicles before they can endanger drivers, passenger, and pedestrians. The SAFE CARS Act finally takes on unsafe practices that are unworthy of the United States government.”

The Federal Government has over 600,000 vehicles in its fleet. Many thousands of these of vehicles, at least 25,000 at last count, are subject to open recalls at any moment. Far too many of these dangerous recalled vehicles remain unrepaired, and in use by federal employees, who are often unaware of the dangers the vehicle presents to them and other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. We are glad to join with the representatives of federal employees like the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union to support reaching an end to this dangerous, and immoral, practice.

When an agency chooses to upgrade its vehicle fleet, or no longer needs a specific vehicle, it will often sell that vehicle to the public at auction. For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) sells over 30,000 vehicles every year. Based on analysis of information made public by GSA, the NHTSA, and industry trends, hundreds – if not thousands – of these vehicles are sold with open recalls. In the overwhelming majority of cases, recall repairs are available for these vehicles prior to being put on the auction block, yet the Federal Government has, until now, refused to undertake repairs, thereby forcing the safety burden onto the purchaser.  The SAFE CARS Act puts that burden back where it belongs – on the seller.

By requiring the Federal Government to put the safety of these public servants first, the SAFE CARS Act prioritizes consumer safety while agencies continue to prioritize proceeds and convenience by selling and using these defective, yet repairable, vehicles.   Vehicles with open recalls pose a clear risk of death or injury and should not knowingly be put into the stream of commerce by the Federal Government.

The Center for Auto Safety looks forward to swift passage of this bill. We also call on the Biden Administration to take up the cause of public safety for all consumers, and federal employees immediately, by ceasing the Federal Government’s use and sale of all recalled vehicles.

###The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 and has always been based in Washington, DC. We are a member supported, independent, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy for all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Over the last 51 years, the Center has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. The Center offers, exclusively for members, a monthly Safety Tune-Up Report providing alerts on safety issues relating to their vehicle. The Center also publishes TheCarBook.com, which has for the last 41 years been America’s most comprehensive car buying guide for safety. To learn more about the Center, please visit www.AutoSafety.org.