U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has introduced H.R. 164 directing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require greater disclosure of information relating to the market value and safety of damaged motor vehicles.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and is known as the “Damaged Vehicle Information Act.” The proposed legislation includes the following requirements.
All persons who terminate a contract related to a motor vehicle due to flood or water damage, collision, fire damage, theft and recovery, or any other circumstance that adversely affects the fair market value of such motor vehicle, to disclose to the public in a commercially reasonable, electronically accessible manner the following information for every motor vehicle that has been identified in such contract:
A) The vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle.
B) The date of the termination of the contract.
C) The odometer reading of the motor vehicle on the date of the termination of the contract.
D) Whether, as a result of the incident that resulted in the termination of the contract, one or more airbags in the motor vehicle were deployed.
E) The cause of the termination of the contract, including whether such cause was flood or water damage, collision, fire damage, theft and recovery, or another cause.
The bill goes on to state that the private sector will be responsible “to collect, aggregate and disclose to the public the fair market value and safety information described in paragraph (1) and all such information shall be accessible by vehicle identification number.”
In January 2009, The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System was implemented, providing a national database of vehicles compiled from state, salvage and insurer reporting. It requires insurance companies and salvage yards to report vehicles that are severely damaged or totaled, giving consumers access to such information as odometer readings and theft records. The data is more comprehensive, up-to-date and less expensive than some private sector reports.
The implementation stemmed from the 2008 court case, Public Citizen Inc., Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Consumer Action v. Michael Mukasey, Attorney General of the United States. Public Citizen filed the suit to fight for a used car database that was established by Congress in 1992 in the Anti-Car Theft Act. However, the U.S. Department of Justice had never made the system available to the public.
ASA encourages independent repairers to go to the ASA legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com, to review U.S. H.R.164.