October 9, 2013
The Detroit News
Washington— The nine-day government shutdown has forced the nation’s auto safety regulator to halt most vehicle safety programs, prompting a House Republican to introduce a bill to fund its operations.
Last week, when an all-electric Tesla Motors Model S caught fire in Washington state, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was unable to send investigators, as it normally would have done.
NHTSA was forced to furlough its entire vehicle defects team. The agency has been unable to read complaints from owners, conduct new safety investigations or continue existing ones. It has been unable to process new recalls from automakers — meaning there is no public notice on the government’s recall website. It has halted work on setting new regulations for autos, including rear visibility standards for all vehicles. And it has stopped new-car crash-testing and release of star ratings.