In Response to Lawsuit by Consumer Groups,Justice Department Rolls Out Auto Safety Database, Issues Rules

Jan. 28, 2009 

MEDIA ADVISORY

In Response to Lawsuit by Consumer Groups, Justice Department Rolls Out Auto Safety Database, Issues Rules

Life-Saving Resource Is 16 Years Overdue, Court-Ordered Deadline is Jan. 31

WHAT:  Telephone press conference to provide valuable details about the Justice Department’s actions, after 16 years of delay, to implement a national database that will enable used car buyers to instantly check whether a vehicle has been stolen or wrecked. On Jan. 30, the database will go online and new regulations will be issued requiring all auto insurers, junkyards and salvage pools to report data on millions of totaled vehicles.

Called the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), this publicly accessible database will be run by the U.S. Department of Justice. The database is many years overdue; Congress first ordered the federal government to create it in 1992. It is finally coming into existence because of a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Consumer Action, which ended with a court ordering the government to issue regulations and make the data available by Jan. 31, with data from private sources by March 31. The database will offer vehicle-history information gathered from states, insurance companies, and junk and salvage yards that will be searchable by Vehicle Identification Numbers.

Car buyers will be able to use the database to instantly check the validity of a vehicle’s title, verify its mileage and learn whether it had been stolen or deemed a junked or salvage vehicle. However, the victory is not complete for consumers. In violation of the law, some big states – including New York, California and Pennsylvania – are refusing to allow the vehicle data to be made public, and other states are not reporting data at all.

WHO: Joan Claybrook, president, Public Citizen

Deepak Gupta, attorney, Public Citizen

Rosemary Shahan, president, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Used car buyers who were victims of salvage fraud

WHEN:   1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 29

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