Automotive Recyclers Association Seeks Middle Ground on Wrecked Vehicles

Fairfax, VA - The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) is seeking bi-partisan support for proposed legislation, entitled The Highway Safety and Anti-Theft and Fraud Act of 2002. In recent Congresses, broad vehicle-titling legislation has been introduced and considered but never enacted. It simply carried too many contentious issues of importance to numerous interested parties in and out of government both at the federal and state levels. ARA's legislative proposal bypasses those past "branding" debates by addressing two key areas through federal vehicle identification number (VIN) condemnation of any vehicle damaged to such an extent repairs could never make it safe for highway use along with the creation of a national registry for total loss vehicles.

"We truly believe that this proposed legislation strikes a balanced compromise for Congressional representatives and interest groups whom have long sought agreement on federal action in this area" said Bill Steinkuller, ARA executive vice president. "This legislation prevents the most severely damaged vehicles from returning to America's roads. It also provides another mechanism for consumers to know when a used motor vehicle they are considering purchasing has been previously totaled by an insurance company. We hope the auto dealers, consumer organizations, collision repair groups and insurance companies (along with other interested parties) will sign on to our proposal for "effective" national legislation." Phil Sheppard, ARA president added, "this proposal not only protects consumers who drive motor vehicles, but also the vehicle sales companies and the insurance companies that handle vehicles from many sources, some of which can be unscrupulous rebuilders and thieves.

The problems associated with significantly damaged vehicles are highlighted in the January 2002 issue of Consumer Reports magazine entitled "Are you buying a Wreck?". The 18-month special investigation uncovered some disturbing details of how the U.S. insurance industry is recouping some $2.5 billion from salvage auto sales each year.

"We need more steps to be taken" says Mr. Steinkuller. He added, "many vehicles destroyed beyond safe repair are being sold for substantial prices to thieves who transplant their VIN numbers onto stolen vehicles. Our proposal condemns the VIN and makes further use of either the VIN or the vehicle, a traceable criminal offense. Furthermore, the nearly 400,000 annually rebuilt vehicles are not subject to any federal safety standards so unscrupulous rebuilders and/or dealers are targeting lax states to 'wash' any indication of the vehicles past damage history."