ARA Urges Lawmakers to Examine Vehicle Regulations More Closely
MANASSAS, Va. — In light of the Internet becoming a major game-changer for how vehicles are bought and sold, state lawmakers are being asked by the Automotive Recyclers Association to take a closer look at what the association considers to be "outdated vehicle regulations" and close the "loopholes" that ARA argues can have potentially dangerous results.
Specifically, ARA suggested Wednesday these "gaps" allow the following:
—The sale and transfer of vehicles without the proper paperwork.
—Total-loss vehicles ending up on the road again.
—Individuals circumventing the environmental regulations governing safe disposal of vehicles.
ARA argued that 3 million or more total-loss units in the U.S. were sold at salvage pool auctions in 2009. Officials suggested that "many" of these were sold via the Web to "unregulated buyers."
Essentially, these units are "electronically bypassing" the rules that states have in place, something ARA called a "steep departure from past practices."
The association suggested that many of the laws on the books were brought about before the Web had such a stronghold on how commerce is conducted. In essence, people are using the Internet to get around some of the restrictions.
"Most of the safeguards in place across the country were instituted before the explosion of the Internet and don't take into account the ease and reliance of our society on Internet commerce," suggested Michael Wilson, chief executive officer of ARA. "Every day in the United States, individuals and entities are using the Internet to bypass safety standards and circumventing state statutes designed to protect consumers and the environment."
Moving on, ARA argues that the problems surrounding these so-called loopholes have spread to terrorism and organized crime.
"In fact, many severely damaged total loss vehicles that are sold through salvage auctions are fetching huge sums because criminals merely want the VIN plate and paperwork that go with these vehicles," the association suggested.
"The purchasers can then use this information to cover up undamaged stolen vehicles by replacing the VINs and corresponding paperwork from the total loss vehicle — securing tens of thousands of dollars in financial gain from the sales of clean stolen vehicles," it added.
Citing media reports, ARA points to the recent incident in Times Square, where attempted-bombing suspect Faisal Shazad apparently bought the SUV involved in the incident with $1,300 cash via Craigslist.
The deal between Shazad and the seller allegedly involved no exchanging of documents or any vehicle registration being recorded.
Apparently, Shazad handed over the cash to the "unsuspecting seller" at a Connecticut shopping mall then drove away, using stolen plates to get into New York.
Investigators were subsequently able to find the seller because Shazad, though he had "destroyed" one of the vehicle identification numbers, apparently he hadn't destroyed all of the VINs. This led authorities to the seller.
"Loopholes like this result in the defrauding of consumers on motor vehicle sales and purchases, criminal activity of all sorts, and even the bypassing of safe environmental regulations regarding the disposal of retired vehicles," Wilson noted.
"The Time Square bombing attempt should be a wake-up call to elected officials throughout the country to review motor vehicle sales statues," he added.