One of the proudest moments of my 42 years in the automotive industry was the opening of my first auto auction in Ottawa, Ontario. That auction is very special to me, as it set me on the path to leading KAR Auction Services and the more than 250 auctions we operate today.
But the Ottawa auction also holds deep personal emotions for another reason: It was there that an auction accident nearly killed my closest childhood friend.
Each year in North America, more than 10 million used vehicles are sold through wholesale auto auctions. The vast majority of those sales go smoothly and safely, but even the infrequent accident can lead to devastating effects. The incident this month at an auction in Massachusetts was a horrific tragedy that took five lives and injured many others. And though it wasn't a KAR auction, it was a heartbreaking event that I and other leaders across our industry have witnessed far too many times.
Safety should not be a proprietary issue, a competitive issue or an economic issue — it's an industry responsibility. So it's time we put our competitive differences aside for the greater cause of saving lives.
To be clear, our industry has not stood idle when accidents occurred, and over the years, we've made meaningful progress to mitigate some of the inherent risks of auto auctions. The National Auto Auction Association has kept safety at the top of its agenda and has promoted many improved safety measures and controls.