More than a dozen consumer groups and three federal employee unions are asking the U.S. government to stop using vehicles in its fleet with unrepaired safety recalls. According to a news report, the group also says the General Services Administration is selling vehicles to the public without making recall-related repairs, including vehicles equipped with potentially dangerous Takata airbags and faulty General Motors ignition switches.
Plea to President Biden
The groups wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden that not repairing recalled vehicles endangers the lives of not just federal employees who drive them but also the public who share the roadway with them. The letter urges Biden to make all federal agencies have the recalled vehicles repaired and prohibit their sale until they have been repaired. Several safety advocates and unions including the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union signed the letter.
The groups as well as legislators say they’ve asked government officials about this issue and so far, haven’t received a satisfactory answer. The U.S. government has more than 600,000 vehicles in its fleet across several agencies. Automakers recall millions of vehicles each year and the government’s own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges people to have the repairs done as soon as they get recall notices. Under federal law, automakers must make the repairs at no cost to vehicle owners.
Dangerous Vehicle Defects
In 2019 alone more than 53 million vehicles were recalled nationwide. The Takata airbag recall, the largest in U.S. history, involves defective airbag inflators that use ammonium nitrate. Over time, heat and humidity could cause the chemical to deteriorate and the airbag to explode with tremendous force blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers.
The airbags have caused at least 18 deaths in the U.S. General Motors recalled millions of vehicles with ignition switches that could slip from “run” to “accessory” position shutting down the engine and causing the airbags to not deploy in the event of a crash. The company paid claims for 124 deaths and 275 injuries stemming from the problem.
There is absolutely no excuse for hundreds of thousands of government-owned vehicles to be out on our roadways without having undergone recall repairs. These repairs, as we know, are free. It is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicles in its fleet are safe enough to be out on our roadways. Our auto defect lawyers join auto safety advocates in asking the federal government to conduct these much-needed repairs.