Shutdown Leaves Safety Agencies Unable To Conduct Duties

Posted on October 2, 2013

The government shutdown is already having an impact on the safety of the American public.  Among those agencies that are being partially shuttered as a result of the stalemate in Washington are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration.  The repercussions for lack of action by these entities could be felt by consumers for years to come.

A new report from AOL Autos delves into how the shutdown is going to affect the NHTSA.  We report often on this blog about the recalls that get issued in relation to automobiles that suffer a minimal or serious defect.  These recalls are necessary as a means to protect drivers.

Now that the shutdown has occurred, you can expect those recalls to cease.  The NHTSA has said that they will not be notifying the public of recalls related to vehicles, and without the oversight of the agency, it’s unclear whether auto manufacturers will be inclined to issue their own recalls.  The NHTSA will also suspend investigations into potential defects associated with customer complaints, and thus the mechanism that ensures a potential hazard will be thoroughly analyzed is also not in place.

The shutdown is also going to have an impact on those who are in the market for a new automobile.  With the NHTSA closing its doors, the agency also plans to suspend tests on new automobiles, along with the issuance of a rating that goes along with that.  But consumers use these ratings to judge whether a vehicle is safe enough for them.  If the shutdown continues, you could find vehicles hitting the market without a star rating.  You could then buy an automobile only to find that it won’t protect your family the way you thought it would.

Another report delves into the other agencies that are already affected by the shutdown, and it speaks to the other safety hazards that could be presented.  The CPSC is also suspending recalls for the moment.  They’ve stated their intention to only recall items that pose a severe fatality threat.  Unfortunately, this leaves room for interpretation as to what constitutes such a threat, as even seemingly benign hazards could end up injuring an individual.

The food you eat could also be impacted by this shutdown.  FDA research has been halted, as has the monitoring of imported products to ensure that they meet United States safety standards.  Safety inspections designed to turn up potential threats have been stopped as well.

With so many agencies shut down, it’s easy to see how matters of public safety are being severely affected by the shutdown.

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