Safety advocates say lives and property are at greater risk because auto recalls and investigations of safety defects have been put on hold during the partial government shutdown.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration furloughed employees who investigate safety complaints and order carmakers to recall vehicles. The public can still file safety complaints through the agency’s website, but no one has been investigating them since the shutdown began last week. Investigations previously underway have been halted.
Manufacturers can still voluntarily recall vehicles, but major recalls are often the result of negotiations between the government and automakers.
Safety advocate Joan Claybrook says that for every NHTSA workday lost to the furlough, an average of three recalls covering 80,000 vehicles are delayed indefinitely.