Clear policy will allow car and truck rental, taxi/livery, bus, government and other fleet owners as well as individual owners to adapt proactive and consistent policies to ensure the safe operation of vehicles
Since 1976, automobile manufacturers have been required by Federal law to provide notice to vehicle owners when the manufacturer determined that a vehicle contains a defect which relates to vehicle safety, or fails to conform to an applicable motor vehicle safety standard. The notices include “an evaluation of the risk to motor vehicle safety reasonably related to the defect or noncompliance” and a statement of the precautions, if any, that owners should take to reduce the chance that the defect or noncompliance will cause a malfunction to occur. The law does not require the manufacturer to advise whether the vehicle should continue to be operated until the defect or noncompliance is remedied.
Every year, auto manufacturers recall millions of vehicles under “Safety Related Recall Bulletins.” In total, more than 390 million vehicles have been recalled and posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) website for recalls.
Currently all vehicle owners, including rental companies, must decide whether to continue to operate vehicles subject to a recall based on the information provided by the manufacturer and NHTSA in the recall notice. Such notices rarely provide clear guidance as to whether the vehicle can continue to be operated. Additionally, while the rules prohibit a dealer from selling a new vehicle subject to a recall, no prohibition is placed on the sale of used vehicles.
ACRA proposes the current rules be modified to a two-tiered system which can properly categorize each recall by the nature of the defect and the potential for harm:
SAFETY RECALL GROUNDING BULLETINS (RGB)
These bulletins, to be delivered to vehicle owners and posted on NHTSA’s website would require the owner or lessee of any vehicle (commercial use or private) to immediately cease operation of the vehicle and park or have the vehicle towed. Such bulletins would be issued when the manufacturer and/or NHTSA believe continued operation of the vehicle pending completion of the recall remedy would pose a significant risk to public safety.
MANUFACTURER PRODUCT INFORMATION BULLETINS (PIB)
Issued based on the determination of the auto manufacturer and/or NHTSA, a PIB notice would permit a vehicle to be operated pending completion of the recall remedy so long as the remedy was completed within an acceptable period of time as determined by the manufacturer and NHTSA. A PIB would also specify whether remedial measures should be implemented pending completion of the recall remedy as a condition of the continued operation of the vehicle. By way of example, several manufacturers in 2010 issued recalls for pedal entrapment. Under the existing rules, the defect would remain until a new accelerator pedal was installed. The auto manufacturer recommended temporary removal of the driver side floor mat until the repair was made.
ACRA FULLY SUPPORTS AN APPROACH THAT ENSURES PUBLIC SAFETY WHILE, AT THE SAME TIME, PROVIDING THE OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF ALL VEHICLES CLEAR, CONCISE DIRECTION AS TO WHEN A VEHICLE SHOULD NOT BE DRIVEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE VS. WHEN A CAR CAN BE DRIVEN WITH A LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE BASED UPON THE DIRECTION OF THE MANUFACTURER.