Balancing the rights of states and those of the federal government can be controversial. But I have long advocated that most laws regulating cars and drivers should be at the federal rather than the state level.
The idea that each state should set its own standards for licensing drivers, for example, is pretty ridiculous. There should be a single standard for age and other requirements to acquire a driver's license, a uniform system similar to federal licensing of aircraft pilots. Since U.S. drivers and vehicles frequently cross state lines, it makes sense.
The same logic applies to auto recalls. We need consistency.
A bill introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., would accomplish that.
It requires that state motor vehicle departments ensure that owners are notified of outstanding recalls when they receive their vehicle registration renewal notices and that those recalls are fixed before states will register the vehicles. It's similar to the process in which some states require vehicle owners to obtain emission-testing certificates or insurance before registration or registration renewal.
While it may not be perfect and may take longer than we would like, it will get the job done, and that's what's important.
There has been far too much controversy about something as simple as getting a recalled vehicle repaired.
Even if it's a rental vehicle or one going through an auction, it has to be fixed if there is a recall notice. It can't be plainer than that.
The states have the make, model and vehicle identification number of each car or truck that they license.
Maybe the factory continues to send the first notice as required, and then the state DMV sends out a reminder that an owner won't be able to get a vehicle registered without having recall repairs made.
A lot of bills and ideas that originate in Washington should be ignored. But this is a fairly simple bill. It should be enacted by Congress and implemented by all 50 states as quickly as possible.
It just makes good sense.