Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Clunkers" available for Vehicle Rescue drills/training?

Recently, at the fire department I run with, we discussed the possibility of using vehicles traded in as part of the "Cash for Clunkers" program to practice our vehicle rescue skills.

If possible, this might be a good exercise since the vehicles would presumably be intact; also, these vehicles could have been manufactured recently enough to be equipped with features such as airbag systems, hardened steel structural members, and various gas struts - all of which are important for the emergency responder to be aware of during vehicle rescue operations.

I'm currently looking at the text of the act which authorized the program(the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009, which is available here in full as a PDF.) One particular section of interest is this, beginning on page 3 of the link[boldface and bracketed comments are added by me, parentheses are in the original]:

(A) IN GENERAL- For each eligible trade-in vehicle surrendered to a dealer under the Program, the dealer shall certify to the Secretary, in such manner as the Secretary shall prescribe by rule, that the dealer-

(i)has not and will not sell, lease, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the vehicle for use as an automobile in the United States or in any other country; and
(ii)will transfer the vehicle (including the engine block), in such manner as the Secretary prescribes, to an entity that will ensure that the vehicle-
(I)will be crushed or shredded within such period and in such manner as the Secretary prescribes; and
(II)has not been, and will not be, sold, leased, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of for use as an automobile in the United States or in any other country.

SAVINGS PROVISION- Nothing in subparagraph (A) may be construed to preclude a person who is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is crushed or shredded from-
selling any parts of the disposed vehicle other than the engine block and drive train (unless with respect to the drive train, the transmission, drive shaft, or rear end are sold as separate parts); or
retaining the proceeds from such sale.

This provision doesn't specifically require that the traded-in vehicle go to an auto recycler, but that seems to be the logical way the dealer will maximize his profit, since the vehicle can't be sold to someone who will keep it intact and operational.

More legalese, beginning on page 4 of the link:
Regulations- Notwithstanding the requirements of section 553 of title 5, United States Code, the Secretary[of the NHTSA] shall promulgate final regulations to implement the Program not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Such regulations shall-
(1)provide for a means of registering dealers for participation in the Program;
(2)establish procedures for the reimbursement of dealers participating in the Program to be made through electronic transfer of funds for the amount of the vouchers as soon as practicable but no longer than 10 days after the submission of information supporting the eligible transaction, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary;
(3)require the dealer to use the voucher in addition to any other rebate or discount advertised by the dealer or offered by the manufacturer for the new fuel efficient automobile and prohibit the dealer from using the voucher to offset any such other rebate or discount;
(4)require dealers to disclose to the person trading in an eligible trade-in vehicle the best estimate of the scrappage value of such vehicle and to permit the dealer to retain $50 of any amounts paid to the dealer for scrappage of the automobile as payment for any administrative costs to the dealer associated with participation in the Program;
(5)consistent with subsection (c)(2), establish requirements and procedures for the disposal of eligible trade-in vehicles and provide such information as may be necessary to entities engaged in such disposal to ensure that such vehicles are disposed of in accordance with such requirements and procedures, including-
(A)requirements for the removal and appropriate disposition of refrigerants, antifreeze, lead products, mercury switches, and such other toxic or hazardous vehicle components prior to the crushing or shredding of an eligible trade-in vehicle, in accordance with rules established by the Secretary in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,
and in accordance with other applicable Federal or State requirements;
(B)a mechanism for dealers to certify to the Secretary that each eligible trade-in vehicle will be transferred to an entity that will ensure that the vehicle is disposed of, in accordance with such requirements and procedures, and to submit the vehicle identification numbers of the vehicles disposed of and the new fuel efficient automobile purchased with each voucher;
(C)a mechanism for obtaining such other certifications as deemed necessary by the Secretary from entities engaged in vehicle disposal; and
(D)a list of entities to which dealers may transfer eligible trade-in vehicles for disposal; and
(6)provide for the enforcement of the penalties described in subsection (e).
Again, nothing in the text of the law here specifically says that it has to be an auto recycler that disposes of the vehicle. I'll be checking to see what the NHTSA Secretary has authorized next.

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